“I can do it myself!” “No! Let me do it!” “I want to do it…” Whether it was dressing oneself, tying shoes, combing hair, or any one of the myriad of tasks performed in a day, as a mom of four little ones, I heard this plenty. “I CAN do it MYSELF!”
When the children grew older and reached the teen years, the attitude seemed to crescendo. “I can drive myself.” “I’ll decide for myself.” “I can do it my way.”
Truthfully, I behaved similarly. Even if I didn’t say it aloud, I thought it: “I can do it myself!”
Within my family, this propensity for doing things “myself” has transferred down through the generations. My dad worked multiple jobs putting himself through engineering school while supporting a young family. His I-can-do-it-myself propensity came from my grandma. Who with incredible independent gusto re-roofed her own house at age 65. Yep! One by one Grandma carried shingles up the ladder. She literally nailed “I can do it myself!”
What a gift! I remember telling my grandma, “When I grow up, I want to be like you.”
Honestly, I didn’t always appreciate this strong work ethic. I have memories of arising from bed on Saturday morning at 8:00AM only to be greeted boisterously by my early-bird Dad, “Well, now! Good afternoon!”
This past week in Bible study, we discussed the importance of attitude in our work. God’s Word says:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24
Work heartily… work with all your heart and soul. The idea supports the Benedictine code: Laborare est orare; orare est laborare. The author of our book, Linda Dillow, translates it this way, “Work is worship, my worship is work.” Throughout church history, we’ve been exhorted to work heartily:
Your heart to God and your hands to work. ~St. Mary Joseph Rossello
I love Him while I ply my needle… ~ Elizabeth of the Trinity
I find a heaven in the midst of saucepans and brooms. ~St.Stanislaus Kostka
No doubt, hard work has its reward. This is something I can grasp.
Truly, work is a gift. God created us for it:
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2:15.
God rested Adam and Eve in the garden to work it and keep it. They are created to rule over God’s domain. Work is NOT the curse. The work itself was cursed. At the fall, annoyances like “weeds, thorns and thistles” entered the world stage. Work became, well, less fun.
Man’s relationship with God changed. The “I can do it myself” attitude emerged. On one hand, this “can do” spirit is positive and helps us rule over our domains (AKA: re-roof a house).
On the other hand, this independent spirit leads us astray to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. This is especially true of knowing and seeking God. Scripture carefully teaches that it is Christ, and Christ alone, who worked for and accomplished our salvation:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10
All religions share a common bond: spirituality. However, all are not equal. In every other religion of the world, one must work, must do something in order to earn God’s favor. Through Christ, however, God has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. Never. Do. For. Ourselves.
Personally, this strikes me hard. There’s nothing I do for myself?
As I shared with my class, I’ve always seen myself as “pretty good.” Okay, I know I am a sinner. Scripture says we all are:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
However, I always imagined my situation as if I were merely “drowning in sin.” I’m drowning and need rescued. Christ throws me the life saving buoy. I grasp it. I help myself. Then, Christ brings me in to safety.
However, my theology professor busted my life preserver ideas with this verse:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1
Dead in sin. Dead?
Friends, is there anything a dead person can do for herself or himself? A dead person needs life. New life. Once dead, there is no “I can do it myself.”
Why does this strike hard? Is it my independent, I-can-do-it spirit? Is it being on the receiving end of a gift? Or is it just downright humbling to recognize my needy position? There is NOTHING I can do to save myself.
Indeed, I need Christ. I need Him. Yes, every hour I need Him.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast… Christ and Christ alone bore the nails. He did the work Himself.
So that I might become His workmanship. A new creation.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! I Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, I give thanks. I boast in Christ and His work alone. Where ever the Lord has me, my work on earth hopefully expresses my relationship, my gratefulness and my obedience to Him. Work is worship, not to earn His favor, but to seek to know Him and to bring Him glory.
Lord and Savior, I praise You for Your good work.
Readily, I admit that I can’t “do it myself.” I’m thankful for Your grace and receive it with a grateful heart.
I pray that these dear ones would also have faith to know and comprehend the complete fullness of Your grace. You first love us. We are made new by You.
Lord, as Your workmanship, may our work be an outward expression of grateful and obedient hearts in You. More love to You, dear Jesus…
*Photo: 21 years ago this month, Grace and Estee admire God’s handiwork: Mary.