In Self We Trust?


After Steve Jobs died last week, I couldn’t help but notice all the news articles which highlighted not only his company’s achievements, but also his personal philosophy. I can appreciate all his hard work, his technological advances, and his motivational ideas that led to the success of Apple. I personally benefit from his life’s work, as do millions of other people.

Many people find purpose for their lives in their work. Good works are marvelous, but I tend to compare myself to Jobs and other successful people. Then I realize that I will never change the world to the same degree that he did, I will never invent something that will benefit the entire world. I am not nearly as intelligent, experienced, or as motivated. I will never amass great wealth, nor be able to give away wealth. My own competitive spirit and personal motivation to be “the best” only leads me to self-pity. My achievements are no match compared to theirs! I am sure others feel this way, and this even leads to depression, low self-worth, and lack of purpose in life. It can even be the reason people step back and don’t get involved…. we feel too small, too insignificant, too weak, or too unimportant to make a difference. At my high school graduation, I heard the same moving speeches that were meant to spur young people on to make a difference in the world, because life is short….embrace it and live life to the fullest!

Most people believe that if they do enough good on earth, then they will have a good afterlife somewhere. But what scale is God, karma, or any other thing using to decide this? In the end, how is success measured? Did I do enough? Did I do enough good? Do my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds? Did I make a mark in the world? If the value of my life is measured by my works, if the purpose of my life is shaped by my works, and if my hope and trust lie in the scope of my achievements, then I am indeed to be pitied the most. The truth is that earthly successes are short lived and only provide temporary relief to our insatiable appetite to excel and be a cut above the rest. One must continually seek purpose and salvation in the next big thing.

My own list of achievements – education, family reputation, marriage, children, jobs, awards, experiences, etc., can cause me to be covered in pride, temporary happiness, and self-exaltation – certainly nothing that brings lasting joy, peace, or hope for the future. Besides, my failures often overshadow them. The Apostle Paul had a great list of achievements, Philippians 3:4-9. However, he called them all trash compared to knowing Christ! He found the secret to living well now, and to living with eternal peace. It was not based on his achievements, but on Christ’s achievements. Christ was the object of his faith, and gave him a “right standing” with God. Like it or not, we all put our faith in something. If our faith focus is not in God, then it is usually on self. I agree with Paul, the value of knowing Christ is far greater than all my works, and my righteousness is not based on my good works. I am not “good enough” because of what I have done. I cannot find salvation in my work, marriage, or in any other successes. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not what you do that makes you successful, it’s who you believe in. I have found that nothing satisfies like the resting place of Christ. Good works are simply that – good works. But they should not be a resting place for our faith.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith….not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” Ephesians 2″8-9