There are lots of ways that it's not about us.
The world doesn't like that fact. The flesh hates it. The Devil rebels against it.
It must be a good thing.
One of the ways that "it's not about me" hit me tonight as I sat down for my devotions. I knew I hadn't had it all together today, and the enemy was trying very hard to discourage me. I wanted to approach devotions hard-heartedly, with all my defenses up against feelings of failure.
But it's not about me.
It's about Him.
God, the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. One God in three Persons. That's who it's about.
He is the one who has held me thus far. He holds me now. He will hold me forever.
Yes, I must repent of known sin and turn more fully to Him, endeavoring by His grace to "go and sin no more." But that's really all the attention I should give myself.
A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) said,
"Faith is the least self-regarding of the virtues. It is by its very nature scarcely conscious of its own existence. Like the eye which sees everything in front of it and never sees itself, faith is occupied with the Object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all. While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves--blessed riddance. The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and to do."
I messed up today. Of course I messed up today! I'm going to mess up every day. I'm human.
On one hand, I must not take this lightly. Sin is deadly serious business (see the blog entry for July 29, 08 called, "How Seriously Does Heaven Take Our Sin?") Sin cost our Lord the agony of Calvary and more. It costs humans their eternal souls if not dealt with at the Cross. It must be hated and repented of wholeheartedly.
But if my sin and failure become the main focus of my life, I'm playing right into Satan's hand. And it's not mainly for the reasons you might think. It's not mostly because I'll get discouraged if I focus on sin, though of course that's true. It's not because it will damage my self-esteem (something I shouldn't be seeking anyway).
It is because:
- Anything that holds our spiritual focus more than God becomes an idol...even our sin. We may not think of it as an idol, but it is. Strong's Concordance defines the Hebrew word for worship this way: "prostrate (especially reflexively in homage to royalty or God): - bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship." The Greek word for worship carries the same connotations. (It makes you wonder about what passes for "worship" in many churches these days, but that's going to have to wait for another day.) Who or what do we worship as an idol? It's anyone or anything besides God before whom we fall flat, overcome or overwhelmed. It is anyone or anything which we believe holds the power to determine our destiny. Our sin deserves no such obeisance from us. Only God does.
- Anything that takes our focus away from God keeps us from enjoying Him. We cannot pursue obedience to the greatest commandment, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength," if all that fills our vision is ourselves and our sin. We cannot enjoy all of His glorious attributes, or encourage others to glorify Him, if He is eclipsed by evil in our eyes. We cannot know His peace, His joy, His hope, or His comfort if all we know is self, self, self.
So how should I approach my devotions tonight? As one who is neither surprised nor discouraged by my own sinfulness. After all, it is only pride that is surprised by failure. Humility is not. And it's only pride that is discouraged by failure. Chambers says, "Discouragement is disillusioned self-love." He is so right!
How should I approach my devotions tonight?
- As one who has eaten only scantily today, and who is starving for more of what is good.
- As one who trusts the Giver implicitly, and does not look to herself to decide what her fate will be.
- As one who loves the Father and has no desire to waste her affections on anything less.
Please click here if you would like to read a poem that I wrote about the emptiness of a self-focused life, and may God bless you with more of Himself!
(Photo by Betsy Markman, 4/96)