One of the most loved children’s books of the last century is The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. The National Education Association named the book one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children”. The story is used to teach children the value of optimism and hard work.
If you have read the book you will remember that the little train broke down and the cargo headed to the boys and girls on the other side of the mountain was not going to make it there.
The train asked Shiny New Engine to pull it over the mountain but he said, “that’s not what I do”. Then the train asked Big Strong Engine to pull it over the mountain but he said, “I have no time for the likes of you”.
Then The Little Blue Engine hitched herself to the little train. She tugged and pulled and slowly they started off. Puff, puff, chug, chug, went the Little Blue Engine. “I think I can – I think I can – I think I can – I think I can – I think I can. “
It’s a very American story. The moral of the story is that anything can be accomplished with a bit of optimism, hard work, and perseverance.
The problem with the “I think I can” mentality is that it leaves God out of the equation. Many Christians believe in the power of positive thinking gospel. If I just put my mind to it I can become a better person. If I just work hard enough I can overcome the sin in my life.
“We are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteous deeds are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6
Self righteousness looks great on the outside and people notice it. Christian churches are filled with people who look holy but solely trust in themselves to be good enough for God. They are seeking Him based upon their own righteousness and what they can accomplish for God.
Instead of “I think can” our motto need to be I think God can, I think God can. We need to understand that we are completely powerless – in and of ourselves – to do anything good. To understand that we can’t save ourselves, fix ourselves, change ourselves, or even give God our affections!
God wants us to have confidence, but he wants us to put our confidence in Him and not in ourselves. Proverbs 3:26 tells us, “For the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught”.
Now that’s the power of positive thinking. I know He can, I know He can, I know He can.