Two words in the English language frequently reveal obstinacy—“I can’t.” Whenever I say “I can’t” in the context of not doing what should be done, I profess to know myself and my limitations and therefore to pronounce what Iwill not do. Of course, I have the right to state what I am unwilling to do. But it is not a question of rights when rebellion is exposed, rather it is a question of will. God sees me for who and what I really am. All the cleverest observations I utter about myself, the most thoughtful pronouncements fall infinitely short of God’s understanding of who I am.
Therefore, in order to expunge my own conceit, I must declare with King David, “Search me, O God!” You truly know what lies in my heart. You see inside my head what needs repairing for You know all my thoughts. Forgive me for pretending to suggest I know what’s best for me. Restore right thoughts and lead me in Your way, the way that lasts forever! (Psa. 132:23,24)
Numbers 13:30-32—Then Caleb quieted the people in the presence of Moses and said, “We must go up and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it!” But the men who had gone up with him responded, “We can’t go up against the people because they are stronger than we are!” So they gave a negative report to the Israelites about the land they had scouted: “The land we passed through to explore is one that devours its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of great size.
When the ten spies concluded they could not defeat the Canaanites they caused their whole nation to be punished by God with forty years of wandering through the wilderness. Each of the ten was put to death by the Lord (14:37). They camped on can’t and failed.
Oswald Chambers wrote words we would do well to apply with the whole concept of can’t.
A saint is made by God, “He made me.” Then do not tell God He is a bungling workman. We do that whenever we say, “I can’t.” To say “I can’t literally means we are too strong in ourselves to depend on God. . .Substitute ‘I won’t’, and it will be nearer the truth. The thing that makes us say ‘I can’t’ is that we forget that we must rely entirely on the creative purpose of God and on this characteristic of perfect finish for God.
“Remember, the battle is in the will; whenever we say “I can’t,” or whenever we are indifferent, it means “I won’t.” It is better to let Jesus Christ uncover the obstinacy.”
While the consequences of saying “I can’t” or “we can’t” may not always have such catastrophic effects we would still do well to realize how important it is not to walk through life with a negative attitude! Why presume to tell God what cannot happen? Why not trust that His sovereign omnipotence is always sufficient for our insufficiencies?
There is no such word as “can’t” in a Christian’s vocabulary if he is rightly related to God.—Oswald Chambers in Biblical Psychology
©2018 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)
Oswald Chambers in So Send I You
Oswald Chambers in The Love of God