If you want to live productively in this fallen world, it’s absolutely critical that you humbly admit your limits as a human being, and then proceed to live within them.
You won’t get much encouragement from the surrounding culture. In fact, think about all the branded slogans, advertising campaigns, or inspirational Instagram quotes that encourage you to deny or even ignore your limits: Just Do It; If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It; Be All You Can Be; Impossible Is Nothing.
While the Bible is filled with verses about the importance of discipline and hard work, the limits on our abilities are extensive and profound. When we consider a typical day, we’re confronted with how little is actually under our control. When we reflect on our life, we see a trail of weakness and deficiency.
We can only be in one place at a time, no matter how hard we dream. We can’t tell gravity that impossible is nothing. We can’t just do it and be all we can be without oxygen, food and water. Which, by the way, we don’t supply for ourselves.
We can’t remove our words and actions from history or redo a situation. We can’t know the details of tomorrow, let alone know where we’ll be or what we’ll be doing in five years.
We can’t accurately read the desires or predict the actions of someone else, and certainly not control them. We can’t make our acquaintances respect us, and we can’t assure that our family members will treat us with love. We can’t change our spouse or force our children to have faith.
We can’t avoid natural disasters or protect ourselves from suffering. We can’t ward off disease and sickness or keep ourselves from aging. We can’t defy the mortality of our humanity.
Discouraged? Don’t be, and don’t panic; reality is a healthy place to be.
Think about this: only when I humbly embrace my weakness, humbly admit my limits, and humbly recognize how small I actually am, can I begin to reach out for the help of the loving, powerful, and gracious Redeemer who is the true source of my strength, wisdom, and hope.
Only then can I begin to function as an instrument in his powerful hands, rather than being in his way because, in forgetting who I am and who he is, I have been trying to do his job.
You don’t have to fear your limits. They were designed by the God who is the definition of everything that is knowledgeable, understanding, wise, and true. Your limits are not a flaw in his creative plan. They are the product of his wise choice and the fulfillment of his intentions. God made you limited, in exactly the way you are.
Your limits are meant to drive you in humble and worshipful need to your Lord, who has promised never to turn a deaf ear to the cry of his children (Psalm 34:15). He has welcomed you to cast your care on him (1 Peter 5:7). He has said that he will never leave you by yourself (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Admitting your limits is not a sign of weakness; it’s an essential ingredient of mature faith.
By Paul Tripp