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The Word in the World – You didn’t build that – (Ezekiel 29:2-3)

Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 29-32

Today’s Reflection: Ezekiel 29:2-3

2) “Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him and against all Egypt; 3) speak, and say, Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lies in the midst of his streams, that says, ‘My Nile is my own; I made it for myself.’

On July 13, 2012 President Barack Obama made a speech in Roanoke, Virginia in which he made the following statement:

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

His opponent in the upcoming presidential election, Governor Mitt Romney, and the Republican party have seized on the phrase “you didn’t build that” from this speech, attempting to paint Obama as a socialist who is both anti-business and against individual achievement, while the Democratic party responds by saying his words have been taken out of context.  But I don’t want to get into political debates here.  What I do want to discuss is the idea of where success comes from.

The one thing that shouldn’t be in dispute is the first sentence in Obama’s statement: If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  From parents and family members, to teachers, to athletic coaches, to friends, to mentors, to leaders in the local community, everyone who has achieved something has done so in large part because they received some help at some point from someone else.

But the support we receive from parents, friends and community pale in comparison to what we receive from God.  Our gifts, our talents, our blessings, our opportunities, even our very lives—every good thing we have comes from God.

But like the Pharaoh of Egypt who Ezekiel prophesied against we don’t all see this.  He thought the might of Egypt was his doing.  The Pharaoh even believed the great river Nile existed because of his might.  The judgment God brought against Pharaoh and Egypt was meant to correct this mindset.  It was God’s way of saying to Pharaoh: You didn’t build that.

Wisdom comes with knowing the truth.  Every good thing we are and have comes from God.  Every true success we have is first and foremost God’s own success, for apart from Him we can’t do anything.

James 1:17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

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