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Devotional: September 14, 2020

Really! There’s no such thing as self-rescue,     pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.

But me? God snatches me from the clutch of death,     he reaches down and grabs me.

         Psalm 49: 7, 15   The Message

One of the myths our society and culture perpetuates is the “self-made man”, or the “self-made woman”. Some may think they did it all themselves. While they may have invested thousands of their own hours, the true perspective is that others contributed to, and participated in their success. We all need help, wisdom, input, guidance and other assistance along our journey. Most importantly, we need the Lord’s help. 

The Psalmist makes that point here. He is addressing both the haves, and the have-nots. He encourages them to work together, in order to help one another. This is not to discount individual initiative, or the strong will of a single person. Yet the Psalmist’s words seek to help us not distort those virtues by taking them too far.

One of the people who realizes this truth about no one being self-made is a person some might describe as self-made: the

bodybuilder/actor/politician/celebrity Arnold Schwarzenegger.  In a commencement speech he delivered to the University of Houston in 2012, he made the following statement:

"I always tell people that you can call me anything that you want. You can call me Arnold. You can call me Schwarzenegger. You can call me 'the Austrian Oak.' You can call me Schwarzy. You can call me Arnie. But don't ever, ever call me the self‑made man."

He went on to tell the graduates about all of the people who had helped him along his journey, from fellow body-builders, to all those involved in making a movie. 

He quipped, "There's 280 people that work on a movie that make you look great on that screen, so how can I say I'm a self-made man?"

We need one another, and we need the Lord. The Psalmist wants us to understand that through both our high and low points in life, God is there. Often, others are present as well. Application of this truth is obvious: give thanks to God, and personally thank those who have helped you achieve what you have in life. Also, help those whom you can, and especially those who are in need. Offer them the same kindness and support you have received from others.

In a sense, it is almost selfish of us to believe we are self-made. In truth, we are made by God, who often uses many others to shape, support, and form us. As God’s children, we are called upon to use our hands and feet to help others. Then, perhaps they, in turn, will “pay it forward” by helping others. None of us are “self-made”, but with God’s help, we can work together to make the world a better place, and hasten the coming of His Kingdom. 


Lord of all,

Help us to realize how dependent we truly are upon You. Thank you for those who have helped, encouraged, and supported us on our journeys through life. May we never forget, or discount, their invaluable aid. Help us also to “pay it forward”, by ministering to our friends and neighbors in need, each and every day. We pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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