The great god of our age is ‘THINGS’. Our fallen nature covets THINGS at the expense of God. God gave us THINGS to use and enjoy but instead we use God to obtain and worship THINGS. THINGS are anything other than God himself. THINGS aren’t bad, they are just not God and they can’t satisfy the craving of the human heart for God. God made us for himself alone and our hearts are restless until we come to a place of self-surrender and rest in God. The Self-Life is what gets in the way of our pursuit of God. Anything to do with life that emanates from self = self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, self-admiration and self-pity, to name a few, will make the pursuit of self the holy grail rather than Jesus. What is the cure for such a malady? The cross. Denying self and allowing the cross of Jesus to kill off in us a desire for THINGS will redeem our affections for God and his glory alone. After the cross comes resurrection. The new creation in us will rise again to a place where God becomes our everything. We may have many THINGS or few THINGS but no THING possesses us except our love and devotion to Christ alone!
Too many of us are caught up with ourselves always on our mind. When you are pre-occupied with yourself, you have no room to be interested in others. The bible exhorts us to, “Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:4). When you are always on your mind, you only ever see life from your limited perspective. Your world becomes bigger when you start to seek first to understand rather than trying to always be understood. God has plans for you that are about your well-being and success (Jer 29:11) but as long as you are always on your mind, you will never understand or embrace the plans that he longs to reveal and outwork in your life.
If we want to follow Christ we must deny ourselves – Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If you want to come after me, you must deny yourself…” This is a hard saying because it is difficult in our day and age to swim upstream and not be on about your agenda. Everything we are taught at school, in the media and in the culture around us promotes the idea that we are the centre of the universe. But Jesus calls us to live with the spirit of the kingdom of God in our minds and hearts, not the spirit of the world = self! You’ve got to leave yourself behind.
Leaving yourself behind looks like Sacrificing yourself for the Call – Jesus said, “Take up your cross daily and follow me.” You can’t follow Jesus and follow yourself at the same time. You have to choose. No one can serve 2 masters, you either follow one or follow the other. When Jesus took up his cross he sacrificed himself for others. Jesus said, “No servant is greater than his master.” If Jesus is our master and he is our ultimate example, then who are we to think we can follow Jesus and excuse ourselves out of the cost of discipleship. Everyday we have a choice – live for ourselves or live for Christ. Jesus said, “Not my will, but yours be done” and he has been exalted to the right hand of the Father. Satan said, “I will be like God” and the bible says, “He fell like lightning from heaven.” Who you sacrifice for will determine your ultimate destiny.
The Kingdom of God is an upside down kingdom – The spirit of the world says, “Live for yourself and you will have true life.” but Jesus says, “Die to yourself and you will have true life.” We are not to be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds to think like Jesus thinks and order our lives after the pattern of the kingdom of God. One of the reasons why the world looks at the church and thinks that we’re weird is because we operate by a different law. The law of the Spirit of God is now in effect and what people perceive as normal, God perceives as weird and what the world perceives as weird, God perceives as normal. Living for God and others will be seen as weird but go ahead and live with others on your mind anyway.
It’s dangerous to live for yourself and achieve your goal – Jesus said, “What will it profit you, if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul?” The answer = nothing. You could live completely for yourself and even achieve your goal but be completely miserable because you are the only in your small little world. A Day is coming called the Day of Judgment when your work will be tested by fire and if it survives the test, you will be rewarded but if it is burned up, you will suffer loss (1 Cor 3:13-14). What profit are living for – Temporary or Eternal?
Don’t make the call about you. God’s call on your life is a blessing from God intended to benefit others. God blesses those who pour themselves out for others (Isaiah 58:10). I’m a big believer in the truth, “If God can get it through you, he can get it to you.”
God doesn’t want us to be a dam or reservoir that contains the blessing but more like a channel and river that passes on the blessing. We are blessed to be a blessing to others. All the gifts and abilities, opportunities and relationships we have are not about us. They are to be stewarded for the benefit of others.
I’ve observed many people live in a state of continual discontentment and want. I think one of the reasons for this is we can get too easily preoccupied with ourselves, and as long as our eyes on ourselves, we will find reasons to be dissatisfied. The moment you get your eyes onto others and start serving them and pouring yourself out for them, you don’t have time to be concerned about what isn’t perfect in your life.
Your call is not about you, it’s about others. I’ve never seen anybody help someone else up in life without being helped up themselves. What you sow is what you reap. God gives grace, favor and influence to individuals for God’s purposes of extending his kingdom in more people’s lives. The more we make our call about us, we are limiting what God wants to do through us to affect change in people. Keep the call pure and keep it focused on Jesus and others and you will be an incredible blessing to others.