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TeensQuestion: I find it really hard not to put school in front of God, because I am a good all-rounder and get mostly A grades. I know that getting good grades and enjoying school isn't wrong, it's just that I rely way too much on my own success and not on God. I can't just pull out of school obviously. What should I do to shift my focus?


What an appropriate question to use in this issue. The editor’s article is all about prayer in our lives and the featured article is about temptation and obedience. You are in good company with many others that also struggle to lean on God rather than themselves. It is so tempting to just grab those reigns even after we’ve given them over to God again and again. Self reliance is sinful and representative of self-pride.

Psalm 73:4-6 says, "They seem to live such a painless life; their bodies are so healthy and strong. They aren’t troubled like other people or plagued with other problems like everyone else. They wear pride like a jeweled necklace and their clothing is woven of cruelty" (NLT).

Understand that the prosperity (whether financial, such as having a great job; or in your case, educational levels of achievement), loses its power at death and the rewards for the godly suddenly take on eternal value. You want to be able to say, "Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever" (Psalm 23:6 NLT). This is the most important gift for any Christian.

Read Exodus 5:2 and you will learn of Pharaoh’s great pride. He ended up defeated and eternally dead because of his haughty spirit.

God is never pleased with self-sufficiency and He definitely demands first place in your life. "You rebuke those cursed proud ones who wander from your commands" (Psalm 119:21 NLT). His distaste for the proud and disobedient is made very plain all throughout the Bible.

"The Lord despises pride; be assured that the proud will be punished" (Proverbs 16:5 NLT).

I really could go on and on quoting scripture to defend the offensiveness pride and self-reliance contains in God’s sight. Thankfully, He is a merciful and forgiving God.

"Oh Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask your aid." (Psalm 86:5 NLT)

"Come now, let us argue this out," says the Lord. "No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool. If you will only obey me and let me help you, then you will have plenty to eat [your needs will be met]. But if you keep turning away and refusing to listen [thinking you can take care of things in life yourself, simply because your heavenly Father has blessed you with a competent mind], you will be destroyed by your enemies." (Isaiah 1:18-20 NLT – author’s comments in parentheses.)

Realize that everything you are and all you have achieved is a gift from God and not of yourself. God really is on your side. Pour out your sorrows, repentance and questions to the One who hears and cares. Get on your knees and talk to him about your mistaken attitude of self-dependence and ask Him to give you a new heart, full of love and obedience.

Your grades won’t change, but your viewpoint and the One you rely on will. You are young and have many trials and crisis that will inevitably come as the years pass. Jesus is your strength in times of danger and a very present help in times of need. God must always come first.
Whose question will be the next to be answered? Send one in and see! Send your questions to toni@smothers.us.
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