Day 205

2 Chronicles 11:1‐13:22; Romans 8:22‐39; Psalm 18:37‐50; Proverbs 19:27‐29

Idolatry of Self-Reliance

A few years back, I heard a well-respected preacher and teacher exclaim, “The two biggest sins of the Old Testament are idolatry and self-reliance!” His off-the-cuff remark sums up our reading from 2 Chronicles. In chapter 12, verse 2 we are told that, “When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he grew strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, he and all Israel with him” (NRSV).

It is tempting to judge Rehoboam for his self-reliance as well as Jeroboam for his idolatry. But after some Spirit-guided reflection, can we begin to see such patterns of self-reliance in our own lives? When things are difficult we rely on God, the Scriptures and the other means of grace. Then life starts to go swimmingly. Naturally, we rest on our laurels for a bit and maybe even say to ourselves, “I deserve a break today.” Before we know it we have slipped into self-reliance. But what if self-reliance is the most subtle form of idolatry? Our culture is awash with this. So what are we to do?

Let us take a cue from the early Church. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42, NRSV). What if the best defense against self-reliance is doing life together with others facing the same temptation? Let us strive, by grace, to immerse ourselves in the Body of Christ so that our self-reliance disappears into a singular reliance on Jesus.

Gary Jackson
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church
Bartow, FL