The Limitation of Potential

James 4:13-14 “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

What is Human potential?

Often described as the capacity for humans to improve themselves through studying, training, and practice with the drive to reach the limit of their ability to develop aptitudes and skills. The push for people to reach their potential is at an all time high and the pressure on parents to help their kids reach that potential has taken many twists and turns. The abusive teaching that says children should explore their sexuality or bringing into question their gender has left many appalled at the state of society and fearful of what this next generation will look like.

A common myth driven by those who subscribe to the THP (true human potential) mindset is that human beings contain physical and mental capabilities that exceed anything possibly conceived. So many people are left feeling like they missed the mark because of their income or level of education that wasn’t attained.

What is it that drives people to look for potential beyond what is common?

I believe that in this world of secular humanism, the pride of mankind has turned into an idolatrous worship of human beings. The attempts to grant godlike attributes to people has placed mankind on the shrine of human potential with a mind toward success.

We all have discovered how easily we get sick or become injured, we lose loved ones to old age, heart disease, and cancer while the young seem to grow more fragile with each subsequent generation. Autoimmune diseases are becoming more common every day with no cure in sight and a worldwide pandemic only adds to the uncertainty.

From the perspective of God’s Word, how should we look at ourselves?

Only a Vapor

Psalm 39:5 “You, indeed, have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing before You. Truly each man at his best exists as but a breath. Selah”

Our lives have been measured, they have a beginning and an end. Before God our lives are but a blip, an imperceptible moment of time that has very little effect on an eternal time scale. Consider the most successful people in ancient history, they are relegated to brief reviews in our history books with most of their lifetime work being forgotten. From Aristotle to Napoleon, our separation may only be a few hundred years and yet their memory on earth is quickly dissipating. Imagine what your life looks like from an eternal perspective?

Psalm 78:39 “He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.”

Regardless of how short our lives really are, they are significant to us—I don’t believe that aspect should be ignored.

“Our time is our life, and our attention is the doorway to our hearts.”

― John Mark Comer, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World

The Lord knows our time is short, He also has a plan for which He has called us to attain.

Isaiah 55:6-7 “Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.”

Our Limitation

If we don’t know the day or hour of our death, we don’t know what the relative health of our bodies will look like as we progressively grow older, and we can’t anticipate the opportunities we might be given—how can we possibly make much of a difference in this world?

Whether we are waiting for the right opportunity, we are hoping for better health, or we have just reserved ourselves to only weakness and failure, the opportunities come by ways more than we think.

Consider the word of the Lord and observe the opportunities that were crushed and those that were given…

Amos 2:9-11 “Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them,
Whose height was like the height of the cedars,
And he was as strong as the oaks;
Yet I destroyed his fruit above
And his roots beneath.
Also it was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt,
And led you forty years through the wilderness,
To possess the land of the Amorite.
I raised up some of your sons as prophets,
And some of your young men as Nazarites.
Is it not so, O you children of Israel?”
Says the Lord.”

Those nations who opposed God’s work were destroyed. Do you think they had other aspirations than what happened to them? Do you know of any people today called the “Amorites”?

What about the children of Israel? They were sinners like the Amorites were but they were the offspring of Abraham and they maintained their devotion to the Lord as their God and King. Israel wasn’t perfect, but they followed the Lord and He blessed them.

The Lord had plans for the Israelites to be a light to the nations and yet the Amorites were one of those nations….what led the Lord in treating them so harshly?

Isaiah 14:24 “The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, “Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand.”

The Amorites stood in between God’s plans and them being fulfilled, the inevitable consequence was their destruction. The establishment of Israel as God’s holy people is the same established goal the Lord has for His people today.

God’s Limitless Power

Our human potential is only as effective as the power that lies behind it. In our case, as followers of the King of kings, the power is behind, before, and within us. The Lord has made it very clear throughout His Word that He has a purpose for each and every one of us, and if we follow Him nothing will stand in that way.

Mark 11:22-24 “So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”

Whatever God has purposed, our job is to follow that purpose. When we walk according to all that God has planned, the potential is limitless.


Because God is limitless and we have placed our trust in Him.

We need not sell ourselves short, our potential is not based on our fleshly abilities, they are based on what God desires to do through what He has given us.

When we walk in the light of His purpose, we walk in victory.

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