March 10, 2012

Already too preoccupied with self?

Today’s devotional reading calls for self-examination, but it could be one that the Word of God does not recommend. The verses are about the patriarch of our faith, Abraham, of whom the Scripture says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3)
These are the days of the years of Abraham’s life, 175 years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. (Genesis 25:7–8)
The devotional writer points to him being “full of years” and offers a picture of the scaffolding used for buildings. He says the moments and days and years of our earthly lives are scaffolding, then asks what am I building inside it? He says that I need to evaluate whet kind of a structure will be left when the scaffolding is knocked away. Am I building that which eternity cannot take away—a character built upon the love of God in Christ, and molded into His likeness? Does my life have this completeness?

My first thought was, “How do I decide that? If I say yes, I know pride hovers nearby. If I say no, despair and turning inward can easily happen.” Then I remembered what Paul wrote:
Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (1 Corinthians 4:2–5)
For a Christian, self-evaluation is a risky thing. Besides the danger of pride or self-pity, it alters the direction of my focus. I’m supposed to keep my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2)
Self-examination also runs the risk of taking over the role of the Holy Spirit. While He lives in me and expresses Himself in my thoughts, the flesh (sinful, selfish nature) can also offer its opinions. Better to let the Word of God and the Holy Spirit tell me what is being built, or not, in my life. He is very efficient and effective at convicting me of sin and correcting errors.

All that said, the Bible tells me that Jesus lives in me. I’m to let Him express His life by loving and obeying God and sharing His love with others. If I take too much time examining me, then at best, it becomes a distracted navel-gazing. At worst, I’m again focused on me, myself, and I, instead of looking to Jesus who already is the structure that will remain when the scaffolding is gone.

This morning I rejoice in a simple truth: Jesus is at the core of my life. He is making me into the person He wants me to be, a person that allows Him to direct and control the process. While I try to obey Him and do my best, at the end of my life, He will still be my life. When I step into glory, I will be like Him for I will see Him as He is (1 John 3:1-3). For now, Lord, keep my eyes on You, not the scaffolding (which is shaky and not at all reliable). May I never think that I’m doing much of anything or that I’m a failure. You are the Savior and the Builder. Faith says to trust and obey You, not being anxious or self-focused about the results.

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