Bible Reading: John 15:1-17
In recent years there has been a plethora or self-help books on the market. Some of these have very helpful thoughts and tips but in most of these books there is one vital missing element – dependency upon God.
In the same passage in John’s Gospel where Jesus says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you” [John 15:7], He also says, “apart from me you can do nothing” [John 15:5]. Anything that we try to do without Jesus will ultimately not succeed. This is one of the clear messages in this passage of Scripture.
We tend to wander from dependency upon God to self-dependency and self-effort. One of the characteristics of the days in which we live is a pressure to be productive and the importance of being seen to be successful. It is seen in the stress people are living under, and late hours in the office. In this context our John 15:5 has tremendous relevance.
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing” [John 15:5 The Message].
In her book “Designer Living,” Susan Sutton writes about “an inward-focused self-pity and an outward-focused self-protection because we feel deficient in our efforts and try to hide the deficiencies from those around us.” Susan goes on to say, “Working for Christ outwardly without remaining connected to Him inwardly leads to a performance-orientated Christianity. Self-effort leaves Christ at the cross while I live the Christian life. But Christ is not still on the cross.”
How refreshing and healing it is to recognize and confess our weakness! Some say the word “can’t” is not in the Christian’s vocabulary – but it is – “I can’t, but He can!” The apostle Paul said, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness“ [2 Corinthians 11:30] and “When I am weak, then I am strong” [2 Corinthians 12:10]. James Drummond Burns summed up our weakness and linked it to prayer when he wrote,
“As helpless as a child who clings, fast to his father’s arm
And casts his weakness on the strength that keeps him safe from harm;
So I, my Father, cling to Thee, and every passing hour
Would link my earthly feebleness to Thine Almighty power”
Would you today humbly confess to God your earthly feebleness and in prayer today link yourself to His Almighty power? If you were to do this every day what difference do you think it would make to your life?