The Danger of Do-it-Yourself Living
And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. —Genesis 11:3-5
Do-it-yourself projects are all the rage. Whether it’s building a deck, fixing your car, or making an album, there is something about using your own ingenuity, creativity, and duct-taping skills to save some money and build your self-confidence. Building is what humans do. We imagine things, design them, collect the materials, and then spend ourselves building.
But anyone, whether plumber or pastor, who attempts to build something would do well to review the outcome of the most famous do-it-yourself project in the Bible. The story of the tower of Babel is preserved to remind us God is not impressed nor threatened by the do-it-yourself projects of men. Building a life, marriage, career, nation, or even a church without God will eventually come to nothing.
It is not so much that God is anti-skyscraper. God was not displeased with what they built on the plains of Shinar. He took issue with why they built it. They weren’t subtle about their first motivation, “Let usmake a name for ourselves” (Genesis 11:4b). They longed for recognition from others. They built for themselves a do-it-yourself significance that inflated their egos. In pride, they determined, “We will build something so great everyone will be talking to us.” Wrong motivation. Wrong name.
Secondly, they were motivated by a do-it-yourself security. They did not want to be “dispersed over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:9) because they were fearful of failure. Settling down and building up were in direct defiance to God’s move-and-spread-out plan described in Genesis 9:7. In fear, they concluded, “We are safer building up without God than spreading out with God.” Wrong motivation. Wrong tower.
Fortunately, God loves us too much to allow us to settle for the false sense of significance that comes from self-promotion, or the false sense of security that comes from self-protection. At times, God graciously “comes down” to stop our tower building with divine confusion. So are you confused? Check your blueprints to see if you are building what God is building and why you are building it.
The good news is we can exchange our building project for God’s. If we run to Him daily, we can exchange our insignificance for His significance. We can exchange our insecurity for His security. There is a better name and a better tower to put our efforts into.
Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”
Right motivation. Right name. Right tower. —Trent Griffith
· Are there any towers that I am building in my life that are my own design and not the Lord’s?
· How can I tell the difference?
Prayer: Father, I build on so many areas in my life each day . . . my marriage, my relationships with my children, my job, and my ministry. So often, I build without consulting You. Forgive me for that. Should I be surprised that so much goes wrong as You come down and “confuse” the situation? Help me to rely only on You and Your strength. I want to build a structure with my life that reflects only You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.