Charles Naylor, 1920
It seems strange that anyone should build barriers in his own way, and lay hindrances in his own path. But that is just what many people are doing. They wish to accomplish something; they desire to do something for the Lord — but someway they find themselves always hindered. They look back upon their lives, and see that they have done very little. How many times they have desired to be as useful as others! But someway, somehow, they were not.
The greatest hindrances to our success are often found within ourselves. We build up walls between ourselves and usefulness — and then lament because we cannot surmount them. We look over the wall and long to be there — while all the time we are placing new stones upon the wall and building it higher and higher.
One of the greatest of these barriers is "I can't!" How many people have built up this wall before themselves! They see work to be done, they see plenty of opportunities for doing effective service — but they distrust their ability.
Or sometimes they are not willing to do their duty, and they begin at once to build a barrier of "I can't" between themselves and their opportunity. Oh yes, it ought to be done, and they would like to do it — but there is that wall in the way. They would gladly do the work if they were over the wall — but it is too high, so the work must remain undone. This barrier is very easy to build — but hard to surmount. The reason it is hard to surmount is because the person is not willing to try.
No one knows what he can do until he tries. "I can't" shuts out God's help completely. It leaves no room for the operation of faith — it increases weakness. The more you say, "I can't," the weaker you will feel; and the weaker you feel, the less courage you will have to attempt anything. It is certain that we cannot do anything — if we do not try.
It is certain that we can succeed in doing whatever God wants us to do. He has said, "My grace is sufficient" — has he spoken truly? He says, "I will help you" — does he mean it? If he does, you will not fail if you do your part. The trouble is, you do not give him a an opportunity to help. When the opportunity comes and the Spirit moves you to act, you draw back behind the wall of "I can't," and do nothing. Have you not had many chastisements because of doing thus? Have you not missed many blessings? Has not work gone undone, and have not opportunities remained unused?
Paul had no place for this barrier in his life. He was a man who did things. He believed that God would help him in all he undertook. "I can't" had no place in his life. He said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." What you need to do, is to quit saying, "I can't," and begin believing God. Throw down this self-made barrier; quit looking at your weakness; look at God's strength! Dare to do, dare to act — and you will succeed beyond your expectations.
"I am afraid!" is almost as common a barrier as "I can't." How many people shrink from duty, saying, "I am afraid I will make a mistake. I am afraid I shall not do it right." They let this fear become a great wall before them; they pile fear upon fear; and as they look at them, their fears constantly grow greater. Soon they come to a place where these fears hedge them in until they dare not attempt anything.
Do you remember the man who said, "I was afraid," and went and hid his lord's talent in the earth? Read his story in Matthew 25:24-30. See what his lord said to him, and note the result of his conduct. Are you doing the same thing? If so, what will be the result in your case? Fear will tie your hands if you allow it; it will make you a profitless servant.
"I don't know how!" is a third barrier. Have you hidden from duty behind this wall? Is this your answer to God when he tells you to do something? The Bible says that "Christ is made unto us wisdom." Again, it says, "If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God." If God gives you a task to perform, he will give you the wisdom to do it as he wishes to have it done. Possibly you do not know how — but God knows, and if you try, understanding will be given you. If you seek wisdom from him, he will not fail to give it. If we always knew how to do things — then we would not need God's help to show us; but as it is, we must often dare to undertake what he wants us to do in his wisdom and in his strength, no matter whether we can see the outcome or not. God wants us to rely on him, and to go ahead in his strength.
"I am not sure!" is another barrier. It is well to know God's will definitely — but many times people want to be so very sure, that God has no way of making them feel sure. They do not take the assurance that he gives; they want something more. Reason and good judgment tell them to go ahead — but they build up the barrier "I am not sure" — and hide from duty behind it. We ought not to decide hastily or rashly — but we ought to decide, and then act upon our decision. One may cultivate the habit of indecision until his usefulness is greatly hindered, and he is constantly tortured wondering what he ought to do. It would be better to make a few mistakes, than to let indecision hold us back from everything.
"They will think!" is still another self-made barrier. The fear of being misunderstood or having negative remarks made about them — is some people's greatest hindrance. "They will think I want to push myself ahead." "They will think someone else ought to do it." They will think this, or they will think that — and so fear of what people will say, closes the mouth and ties the hands, rendering life fruitless and useless. The thing that ought to concern us is, "What will God think if we do not do it?" It is to him we must give account. It is his approval we should seek. If he approves — then what others think is a small matter. Are we not willing to be misunderstood for Jesus' sake?
Let us cease to build these barriers before us. Let us throw down all the barriers which we have built. Let us decide we will not be held back from duty by our fears. Let us go forward in the strength that God will give. Let us trust more in God, and be confident that he will not fail us. Have you not read that the "man of God" was to be thoroughly equipped unto every good work? If you would pay more heed to getting equipped, than you do to your fears — then you might become far more fruitful. Thus, you would be more happy here, and reap a greater reward hereafter.