The dangers of self-confidence

I don’t do a lot of overtaking when I’m out on my bike.  Mostly I just potter along on quiet lanes, enjoying the view, ready to slow down or stop whenever I see any particularly interesting flower or bird or butterfly.  Consequently, I am more likely to be overtaken, by cars of course, but also by other cyclists.  Usually they are younger, stronger, and fitter than I am, as well as apparently having targets to achieve!  Sometimes, though, I am passed by someone on an electric bike.  Would I like one?  I’m not sure.  Doubtless it would make things easier; no more struggling up hills with leg muscles protesting and lungs bursting, but the flick of a switch and a cruise to the top.  Or how about those days – as last week – when a gentle, barely perceptible tail wind on the way out turns into a strong, cold, gusty head wind on the way back and it feels as though I would go backwards if I were to stop pedalling?  Hmm.  Maybe one day!

Using your own strength when you can and relying on another source of power when you need some help is probably a great idea on a bike, but it is no way to live the Christian life!

The Lord Jesus said to His disciples, and to us, “Without Me you can do nothing.”  There is never a time when we can really rely on our own strength, though we often try to do so!

John Calvin wrote: Feeble as we are by nature, and prone to ascribe all perfection to our flesh, we readily estimate our virtue above its proper worth, and doubt not that, whatever happens, it will stand unimpaired and invincible against all difficulties.  Hence we indulge a stupid and empty confidence in the flesh, and trusting to it wax proud against the Lord Himself; as if our own faculties were sufficient without His grace. 

Calvin goes on to explain how the Lord in His kindness sends us trials to show us how weak and frail we are, and thus to humble us and cause us to cling more closely to Him.  He continues: Believers, I say, warned by such proofs of their diseases, make progress in humility, and, divesting themselves of a depraved confidence in the flesh, betake themselves to the grace of God, and when they have so betaken themselves, experience the presence of divine power, in which is ample protection.

May that increasingly be our experience.

Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

                                                                                                John 15:4-5

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

                                                                                                Proverbs 3:5-6

Lord, we lie before Thy feet;

Look on all our deep distress;

Thy rich mercy may we meet;

Clothe us with Thy righteousness;

Stretch forth Thine almighty hand,

Hold us up, and we shall stand.


O that closer we would cleave

To Thy bleeding, dying breast!

Give us firmly to believe,

And to enter into rest.

Lord, increase, increase our faith;

Make us faithful unto death.


Let us trust Thee evermore;

Every moment on Thee call

For new life, new will, new power;

Let us trust Thee, Lord, for all.

May we nothing know beside

Jesus, and Him crucified.      -Joseph Hart