“It is not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
You shouldn’t have to feel bad. That’s one of the unspoken mantras of our culture. The only thing that’s really bad these days seems to be feeling badly about something. What we want to feel—and others with us—is competent. We want to feel like we can do anything.
This message is all over the place. Consider the theme music for Disney. I’m talking about the music that plays when they show the castle before every Disney movie. It’s always a variation of the classic song from Pinocchio, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” sung by Jiminy Cricket.
Do you remember the lyrics? “When you wish upon a star; makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you.” You can be whatever you want to be. If you just set your mind to it, you can do anything. You have within you the means to accomplish whatever your heart desires. You don’t need anybody else. You just need to look inside and draw it out. That sure sounds good. It definitely sells well.
The truth, however—as is so often the case—is rather divergent from reality. The truth is that on our own, we are pretty limited. If we are going to accomplish anything of truly lasting value, we need more than just ourselves. Paul recognizes that here.
He’s talking to the Corinthian church about his work as an apostle and the success he and his team have had with them. He tells them that they are the proof of his merit as an apostle of Jesus. He claims confidence before God in who they are as evidence of the good work Paul has done. Then, before he heads off down a path of pride, he adds this little caveat: None of this came from us; it is God who makes us able.
Here is the truth we need to wrap our hearts and minds around. The messaging of our culture is well-intentioned, but wrong. There are some things you’ll never be able to do because you weren’t designed to do them. We are not victims of our DNA, but some people are born with the ability to do things that others simply cannot. This should neither be a point of pride nor of envy. It’s just a marker of human diversity.
Now, we are remarkably capable creatures. Consider the famed Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Nearly all of those were built by pagans with no sense or awareness of the one true God. But they’re also all gone save the pyramids and some ruins of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.
If we want the kind of accomplishments that will have an impact beyond just ourselves and our lifetimes, we need to lean into the God whose power is entirely without limit. It is not in our own power that all things are possible, but with God. God is not only the wind in our sails, but is the maker of the sails as well. You are uniquely and wonderfully made, but you are made. You didn’t make yourself. We will find ourselves able to accomplish the most when we recognize that our adequacy is from God.
So set your mind to great things still. Dig deep in yourself and work as hard as you can to accomplish incredible tasks. But let your real power source be the power that doesn’t have any limits or restrictions on it. Tap into the power source that is the source of all power. Then you will find your deepest dreams—your God-given dreams—can all come true.