When I read Ralph Waldo Emerson in high school and college, the independent Me thought he was the bomb. I soaked up the "be self-reliant, be your own person and don't pay attention to what others think (or care about)" attitude, and thought it was great.
When I got to college and read Ayn Rand's writings, I thought those were super, too --- "going your own way" sounded perfect to me. The old maxim of marching to a different drummer (Thoreau) was appealing.
As I grew older (and I hope, wiser) I began to re-read some of what had appealed to me before, and wondered how I had missed some things . . .
Like this quote from one of the characters in "Atlas Shrugged" who says, "Man --every man -- is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose." Huh? How did I miss that -- was I speed-reading and missed it completely?
My take on this now, is that we Christians are supposed to (in fact, the Bible strongly tells us to) put our trust in God, not in man, and not in ourselves. I think you can probably point to many other verses that support this, but here are just a couple:
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Psalm 37: 5-6
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. Psalm 118:8We are to depend on the Lord. His words are to be our final authority in all matters of faith, doctrine, and even everyday life. The Bible is our light when the path grows dark and confusing, and the words in it can shed light on our decisions. We also live in a community of believers who can offer us Biblical wisdom and offer accountability as well. Self reliance? Not.
The word "fat" in scriptures almost always notes bounty, success, and blessings. Check these out:
Genesis 45:18 And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.
Psalm 92:14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;
Solomon is telling us that the proud heart, the person who is arrogant and self-centered, stirs up conflict. Why? Because she or she is always placing their needs above the needs of everyone else. They are often gloating and think they are above reproach -- their way or the highway -- and think that they are the only godly person in the room! Because of that attitude, they cannot abide with contradiction or competition . . . they make their own life and the lives of those around them miserable.
In contrast, the person who trusts in the Lord shall have an abundant life, a life full of blessings. And the person who can see wisdom and beauty in others will, I believe, find that Emerson and Rand had it wrong, and that Peter had it right:
1Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.