“Good job!!” I exclaim as my grandson toddles his way toward me, unsteady but determined, lunging for my outstretched hand. His victorious smile tugs at my heart and I have a swift bittersweet moment, excited for these developments in his life but mourning the baby that he was. Since conception he has been dependent on others, content to be attached to and cared for. As time has passed he is determined to be less dependent and more self-sufficient, not because of some lack in his life but rather something stirring in his soul.
Self Sufficient: able to provide for oneself without the help of others; independent.
Surely part of our desire to be self-sufficient is for survival. As people, we would not get very far if we never learned to do things for ourselves. However, we quickly realize that our inner motivation to survive ends up pushing us to reach out to others for the assistance we need.
On our way toward desired self-sufficiency, we are made aware of our need for community. As John Donne so eloquently writes: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”
Imago dei: made in the image of God.
We were made in the image of God. While I won’t pretend to fully understand what that means, I do believe that God has placed a little bit of who He is in each of us. And as we have seen over the past several months, while some of God’s attributes are communicable, others are not. Self-sufficient is one of God’s incommunicable attributes.
Before earth, heaven, angels, the universe, there was God. And He had no need of anything or anyone. If He had had need for anything, it too would have existed from eternity past.
God, while eternally existing in perfect community within the Trinity, is and has been and forever will be completely self-sufficient.
Creation added nothing essential to God. Ephesians 1:5-11 tells us that creation came from nothing but God’s good pleasure: according to the kind intention of His will (Ephesians 1:5, NASB).
According to Nick Tucker in his book 12 Things God Can’t Do, God’s lack of loneliness is an expression of His independence from His Creation. He further explains that God does not need what He has made to complete some aspect of Himself.
In her book None Like Him Jen Wilkin says, “He created us gladly, and loves us infinitely, but He doesn’t need us.” She goes on to explain that need is in fact a limit. Since God has no needs, He has no limits and cannot be controlled, coerced, or manipulated.
Not only are we unable to bring God under any obligation to us. God gains nothing from us: “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?”
“Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again?”
—Romans 11:34-35, NASB
So while God has no needs, He created us to have needs in order to point us to Himself, the supplier of all needs. And while we bear the image of God, unlike God we are not self-sufficient. In fact our physical lack of self-sufficiency should lead us to recognize our spiritual needs. There is only one source that can satisfy all of our longings: the sustenance that comes straight from the heart and hand of our loving Heavenly Father, through the gift of His only Son and the power of His Holy Spirit.
“He is solitary in His majesty, unique in His excellency, peerless in His perfections. He sustains all, but is Himself independent of all. He gives to all, but is enriched by none.” —Arthur W. Pink, The Attributes of God.
God alone is self-sufficient. Everything and everyone else is dependent upon Him for breath, life, and its existence. As we travel down our paths of sanctification, we learn to become more dependent on the God who said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14, NASB). Putting to death any desire to be self-sufficient, we become more like the Eternal One, Jesus Christ.
Psalm 102:24–27 (NASB)
I say, “O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days,
Your years are throughout all generations.
Of old You founded the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
Even they will perish, but You endure;
And all of them will wear out like a garment;
Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed.
But You are the same,
And Your years will not come to an end.”