April 26

lincoln2 In the past few days I have been thinking about what it means to be a “self-made man.” There was a time when I would have thought that might have been a good thing. I grew up reading almost everything I could get my hands on and I loved reading about Abraham Lincoln. By the time I was in the fourth grade, I had read every book our school library had about the boy who was born in Kentucky, taught himself by the fire in his log cabin and grew up to be the sixteenth president of my country. To me, honest Abe was a self-made man. He was a man to be admired and respected. He was a man who could be trusted.

But, something happened within my extended family to make me think about another sort of self-made person and it is breaking my heart. The kind of person I am thinking about now didn’t teach himself by the fireside in a log cabin at night, but he did teach himself some things. It seems he taught himself that he didn’t need God. I don’t know when or how, but I do know one thing, he did it precisely the way God said he would. He did it exactly by denying everything that came to him through God and by God’s loving discipline. For although he knew God, he did not honor him as God or give thanks to Him, but this self-made person became materialistic in his thinking, and his foolish heart became hard. (Romans 1:21)

A person like that is very hard to be around. Even when the room is filled with family and friends celebrating, his heart seems rock hard and stingy. He has little room for anyone else and he can’t celebrate with the people closest to him. We watch him drown himself in “artificial spirits” instead of the true spirit of God. We watch him deny cherished loved ones things he promised them because he gave away his judgment as God said he would (Romans 1:22). He sits in front of us thinking he is so wise, but we know. He has become a fool and it is truly heart-breaking to watch. What hurts even more is that the choice to choose something else over God seems to have been made eons before it became evident because at this point, the person has truly become self-made. He is not a god-made person at t his point. God has given him up in the lusts of his heart to impurity (Romans 1:24), to dishonoring of his body.

Romans 1:18-25

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

When a person chooses God, we see repentance, we see growth, we see godliness, faith, hope, and the fruit of the spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is visible, tangible, proof of a god-made person.

When a person chooses himself, there is proof of that, too. We see the proof of self-made in Romans 1:28-31. When a person chooses to be self-made rather than God-made any or all of the following will occur.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Why do I write about this? I write about this because it is the truth. This kind of thing happens every day. People deny that God exists and God lets them do it. God lets them deny Him for a long time, but the day comes when God says, “That’s it. I can’t let you do this. You know better. You have to choose. Choose yourself, or choose me.” Up until that day, the person may have been sort of going through the motions of following the Lord. The person may have looked fine on the outside and just been a hot mess of unbelief and little faith on the inside not knowing where to turn or who to turn to. That person may have been angry at the world, building up bitterness and unforgiveness inside themselves and taking it out on God. Who knows? God knows, and believe me, God does care.  God wants to change self-made into God-made. That’s what He does.  Even if it looks to the world as if there is no hope for someone there is. Only God knows when a person has genuinely, wholly turned completely away.

Until then, it is up to us, those who love them, not to give up. We must pray, and love and pray and forgive and pray and pray again. We must never lose them to themselves even when we have to let them go and do their own thing (because if God does, then we do). Even when we love, forgive and pray from a distance, we have never given up. The battle may have been lost, but until the war is over we never give up! Rather lose the battle than lose the self-made to himself. The prodigal son didn’t want to live eternally in his own mess! Would anyone else sincerely choose to do the same? No, of course not! That is why our love, prayers and forgiveness are so important. We cannot let someone we love, who has no accurate judgment, no true wisdom, be in the world without the cover of Biblical warfare. As mentioned in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. ”

The self-made man I so admired in my youth, Abraham Lincoln, once said, “my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” He also said, “Be sure to put your feet in the right place and then stand firm.” Those sound like the words of a god-made man to me.

Father, today I submit my will to You, if You have finally given our self-made over to himself that is your affair. You are always right. If You have not, then I ask You, in the name of Jesus to remove the scales from his eyes. I ask You, for the sake of Your Son, whom You love, to restore his faith and commitment to You and those he has committed himself to in the past. I pray a hedge of protection around him and his thoughts. I pray he is unable to act in any way that would displease You even if he wants to. I pray he is so miserable in the mess he is in he will rise up and repent and come home to You!

Most of all Father, I pray that if I ever start down a path toward a self-made life You will turn me around so fast my head will spin. Thank you, my God, my Salvation and my eternal home! Amen.