I don't know if it's American culture, Asian culture, or my own personal sinfulness, but I've always (even though I'd deny it at times) believed in part in the inherant ability and power of man.
I had gotten through 18 years hostile to God, rejecting Him implicitly if not explicitly. I had lived by "my own" (as I believed at the time) power. I was "smart." I knew math. I could do math problems (especially contest problems) really well. Most things were pretty natural. Even when it came to foreign languages, I could always fake it and take cues from body language and context and guess at what people were saying. I was, to the best of my knowledge, good. Boy was I wrong.
When I became a Christian some of that changed, but some of it did not. I was now a "student" and had to fulfill my "student's calling." How was I to fulfill the student's calling? Simply by being the best student I could of course! I was going to study like crazy, please my parents, please myself and thus I would glorify God with my studies of course!
But anyways, I was reading my Bible and came across this passage.
10His delight is not in the strength of the horse,And I started thinking. God's delight is not in the strength of the horse, the legs of a man, the academic accomplishments, the monetary value, or anything, but the LORD takes plaesure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
Of course, the self-empowered culture demands that I qualify that statement with a, "but that's no excuse to be lazy." (which is just a sinful assumption that now that we've been given grace we can now be lazy, as Paul points out)
But it wasn't the grade that I got on my paper that glorifies God. It wasn't how much or how little effort I put into studying for that exam, it was the fear of the Lord, the faith in Jesus Chrst, the hope in His deliverance. Boil things down, it wasn't what I got, but how I got what I got. Was I working in faith? Living in faith? Walking in fear of the Lord and not of man?
Do I find my value in Christ and Christ alone and have my work be a natural joy and fearlessness that flows out of that or am I terrified that if I don't do well enough I won't be able to glorify God?
1Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant,[a] and a song of praise is fitting.
2The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6The LORD lifts up the humble;[b]
he casts the wicked to the ground.