Does the world revolve around me? Absolutely not!
Should it? Quite possibly…but not that I would ever admit it! Self is a frequent acquaintance of mine (as you can see!). The problem is, Self is quite opposed to God because God will never leave Self as he is. Many days I’m quite thankful for this! Lately, however, God’s been showing me how gratitude has not frequently been my response.
Many things have led to these revelations. One of those things has been our near-weekly singles Bible study. You see, we’ve been discussing Self and comparing it to the character of God and the life He gives us at salvation—full, complete, accepted, loved, forgiven, joyful, peaceful, serving and Himself! Self, on the other hand, offers only more of Me, which is darkness, emptiness, incomplete, ashamed and unacceptable, embattled, floundering, wallowing in pride and self-serving pursuits. Not a pretty picture, huh? Self introduced himself in the garden of Eden so long ago and has not left mankind since. He influences our lives largely through our thinking—considering him in every decision we make. But fortunately for me, He’s terminally ill. You see, Jesus killed Him when He died for me on the cross and gave me a new life with Him, in Him and through Him! I am no longer a slave to Self. I’m free and accepted, loved, fulfilled, complete, joy-filled, peace-full. But God has still been pointing out to me where I’ve allowed Self to influence me.
Another revelation came through our group comparing Jacob’s responses in his life to Job’s responses in his. I’ve never really liked Jacob and now I know why. Selfishness marked his whole life and I look way too much like him! Jacob mourned and refused to be comforted at all for 20 years after the supposed death of his son, Joseph. Is that an incredibly painful and difficult loss? Absolutely! But he chose not to give any thought to his other 10 sons. Later, Benjamin alone brought him any comfort and even then his concern was more for his own comfort than for the lives of his family! On the other hand, Job lost ALL of his children, ALL of his business and livelihood (his herds), and his own health, but though he mourned heavily and even demanded answers of God at a few points, he recognized God’s sovereignty and praised Him for it! Job recognized God in all things whereas Jacob recognized only himself most of the time.
More of this revelation came through an exercise we did in our orientation class this past week. (Though I’ve had language level 1 I hadn’t been through orientation for the country and NTM’s service here until last week. We’ll be finishing up this week.) One of the important parts of any organization (but especially of a ministry) is knowing what the Core Values are that it operates by. These Core Values are what we value as good. For example, a Core Value of a food manufacturer is producing a product that is safe to eat. A Core Value of ours may be that exercise is important to good health. Or, a Core Value of a ministry is that every decision be based on the Word of God.
Now the Core Beliefs are “firmly held convictions that consistently motivate my behavior. Often we are not aware of them.” (NTM orientation manual) In other words, what are you consistently acting on? What are actually doing? Going back to our examples, if the food manufacturer’s Core Value is a product that’s safe to eat, I should hope a Core Belief is keeping harmful chemicals out of the product! If our Core Value is that exercise is important to good health, I will be exercising. If a ministry’s Core Value is making decisions based on the Word of God, I would like to see prayer and Bible study as part of its decision-making process and the results to be based on the Word of God.
But how often do our Core Beliefs contradict what we say our Core Values are? We were asked to go through a list of NTM’s Core Values that have been made more personal and re-word them according to what is actually practiced in our own lives. The following are the statements given us:
• God’s Word is the final authority for my life in all things.
(Phil. 4:6, Ps. 119:89, I Peter 1:25, II Tim. 3:16-17)
So how would you complete this? Mine said, “God’s Word is a contributing authority for my life in the parts I feel I need help on.” Hhhmmm…need some work there.
• My life is controlled by the Holy Spirit and I live in dependence on God in every aspect. (Jn. 15:5; Gal. 5:16, 25; Rom. 6:4; Prov. 3:5-6; Rom. 4:20-21; Heb. 11:6; Phil. 4:6)
How would you complete this one? “My life is controlled by getting frequent input from the Holy Spirit, by what emotional responses I have to things, and dependence on God in some aspects most of the time.” Or, “I see others who need to be controlled by the Holy Spirit… .” Or, “My life is controlled by the Holy Spirit when I am not trusting myself.” Hhhhmmmm…moving on!
• My life demonstrates a readiness and willingness to sacrifice for Christ and His church.
(I Cor. 4:11; II Tim. 2:4; II Cor. 8:2)
How about this one? Mine reads, “My life demonstrates a readiness and willingness to sacrifice for Christ and His Church if it’s a big, important thing or if it’s not too uncomfortable or inconvenient or gets me attention and glory.” Yeah…not so good either.
• My life demonstrates a high value in Godly relationships and interdependence in ministry. (Phil. 2:1-4; I Cor. 12:25; Eph. 4:3)
Ok. Let’s try this one. “My life demonstrates a high value in Godly relationships and INdependence in life and ministry.” Better but still…Self just popped right out of me there! Ok. One more…
• I live with a constant motivation for excellence and urgency in all I do to finish the task.
(Col. 3:23; Phil. 1:10; Eph. 6:6-7; Phil. 3:14-16; I Cor. 9:19-27; Jn. 4:35; Jn. 9:4)
Me? “I live with a constant motivation for perfection and urgency to finish the task efficiently.” Or, I live with a constant motivation for others’ approval of what I do.” Or, “I live with a constant motivation for completing the task if I absolutely have to.” Ok…so not looking so good here either.
In other words, I found that what I say I value and what I live are two very different things and that Self becomes pretty obvious in a lot of these!
So now what? This insipid Self is all over the place! But God is IN me and “Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world”! (I Jn. 4:4) He made me. He saved and redeemed me from sin’s slavery. He changes me from the inside out. When I confess my sins, “He is faithful and just to forgive [me] [my] sins and to cleanse [me] from all unrighteousness.” (I Jn. 1:9) “God resists the proud but He gives grace to the humble. Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (I Pet. 5:5-6) Because He asks it of me, I must continue in humility by serving others (a position despicable to Self) and preferring them over myself. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or concern, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:3-4) “Now may the God of peace…make you complete in every good work to do His will working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb. 13:20-21) \
Thank you, Papa God, for being greater and for loving me and for changing me! Into Your hands I commit myself and here I’ll rest!