By Junhui Bian, Ph.D.
Man often enjoys believing in himself. Self confidence not only brings one a sense of satisfaction and achievement, but also makes one boasting and prideful. “There has never been a savior, depending not on God or kings, to make our happy lives, we depend only on ourselves.” Millions who grew up hearing and singing this loud song of Internationale were once the proudest people on the face of this earth.

During the 1950’s, millions of people participated in the Movement of Great Steel Production. They believed it possible that China—with its countless small steel mills—might one day overtake England and America in steel production. Instead, more than three million tons of crude steel and 4.16 million tons of crude iron were useless. The country-wide loss came to about twenty billion yuan.

In the 1960’s, sixteen million educated youths joined the Movement of Going to the Countryside, believing that it was necessary for them to receive reeducation from the farmers. In the end, the self-confidence of these youths quickly became blindness and loss. After wasting the immeasurable youth time of a generation and more than ten billion yuan in settlement costs, the movement was terminated.

In the 1970’s, all the farms became the experimental grounds for Learning from Da Zhai in Agriculture Movement. People deeply believed the claim that “man shall overcome nature.” They plowed the fruit forest in mountains and hills, built stair-shaped fields, and planted crops. Again, it ended with great waste of human labor and financial loss. Even the great leader, who made the claim “man shall overcome nature,” whom people hoped would live for ten thousand years, died of illnesses. His wife was jailed and sentenced to death soon after. What is the reason for man’s self-confidence to be humiliated in such a way?

Beginning from the 1980’s, people, learning from the lessons of the past, put their faith not in a group and a leader any more, but in their own intelligence and wisdom. It was at this time that I attended Peking Union Medical College. We were called flatteringly by others as “the proud son of heaven.” I also considered myself as one of the academic elites in the society then. One of my classmates had a very outstanding academic grade and had been hoping to become an expert surgeon. His self-confidence was once admired so much by all classmates. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with leukemia right after his graduation. As a doctor, he could not cure himself. The knowledge he learned in the medical school could not bring him the slightest faith of living, but the deep pessimism and the loss of hope. I did not dare to visit him before his death, fearing to see what it would be like for me when my life ends.

When I saw the endless ocean the first time, it was silent. Thinking that the ocean was just a larger swimming pool and having learned how to swim long ago, I jumped in. Immediately, the ocean threw me hard in all directions and taught me a big lesson. Man’s self-confidence cannot stand the trials of life. Those who put their entire faith on themselves and others ought to be pitied since once these are lost, there would be no hope left for them.

Every year now in China, two million people try to commit suicide and 250,000 people succeed. Suicide has become the most common cause of death for people aged 15 to 34. The sorrow of the self-confident originates from the human factor. Regardless of who the person is, no one is dependable in the matter of faith.

I know an old Christian man who was admitted to the hospital in need of a very risky surgery. Being without fear for himself, he also tried to comfort a nurse in his ward who was troubled due to her family matters. The nurse asked him, “Others would be extremely afraid waiting for this operation. How could you be without fear and with such self-confidence?” He replied, “My confidence is not in me. Look at my body, it is already very week and is wasting away. I can not depend on it. I know God and received his mercy all my life. Only he is trustworthy and dependable.” The words of this wise man should provoke deep thinking in every one of us.

Self-confidence, in fact, is to depend on one’s talent, beauty, wealth and power. The Bible says:
“He who trusts in himself is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26).

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

“For riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations” (Proverbs 27:24).

“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord…” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
Christians seek to depend and believe in not themselves, but God’s promise: “For God so loved world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
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