September 12, 2014

It isn’t about me

In Rick Warren’s well known book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” he begins with this: “It is not about me.” This thesis statement puts purpose for living right in the hands of God.

Moses had trouble with that. When he encountered God at the burning bush, God gave him a large assignment. “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

Instead of keeping his thoughts on God, Moses said, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:10–11) He hadn’t read Warren’s book.

The response of Moses points to another spiritual danger, the danger of supposing that living for Christ depends totally on me. It seems rather obvious that this is ridiculous, but every now and then the independence of sin sneaks in and I find myself thinking ‘I can do this’ or ‘I can’t do this’ as if the Lord has left me to my own devices.

On one hand, the idea does appeal to my pride. I’d like to be able to do it, for then I could pat myself on the back, look down on the less capable, and think myself as being something like a teacher’s pet in God’s classroom. Yet He has something to say about this attitude. “There is none righteous, no not one . . .” (Romans 3:10) and “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23–24)

Righteousness is the work of God, not mine. I could not save myself, so I have no right or reason to claim that I can stand before God and say, “I can do this” as if I don’t need Him any longer.

On the other hand, I err just as much by picking up Moses’ idea and telling God, “I cannot do what you ask.” The Bible says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire . . . .” (2 Peter 1:3–5)

His power has given me all that I need to live a godly life for Him. I cannot balk at any command, or claim I am unable, even though in myself I am unable. However, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Warren is right. Living the life of purpose that God gives isn’t about me. It is about Jesus Christ and as soon as I start thinking otherwise, I am in spiritual danger.

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