The Isle of “Me”January 2, 2007
Maybe it’s not exactly a “fair” evaluation but it’s something that we all do. Whenever you meet someone for the first time, you generally will do a mental “sizing up” of that person as you commune with them. This process may be largely sub-conscious, but nonetheless, you will pick up on certain facial expressions, habbits, conversational leanings, certain phrases, and the kind of words that they use as they put on display the contents of their heart. This is all used to develop a mental picture as to the kind of person that they are. If their words contain a lot of anger, you take note of it. If they tend to steer the conversation toward a particular topic, you determine that it’s a topic in which they are interested in. (I know that this sounds like a “telling of the obvious”)
Luke 6:44-45 “For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”
In such situations, I always find myself taking note of the number of times that they use the word “me.” Do they place themselves in the center of all that is or do they focus on other things such as ideas, the needs of others, the social/economical climate, science, or spiritual matters. As you listen to folks, even many christians, the topic of “me” is often dominating. Much of the teaching today focuses on material gain and, as a result, the focus becomes the wants of “me” instead of God. The focus is often subtle and it takes real discernment (see Hebrews 5:14) to notice it. The main problem with prosperity preaching isn’t the stuff; it’s the setting of ones heart upon the stuff. Jesus said that “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” He continuously focused on the eternal in everything that he said and did. This touches on my “one new years resolution” which I’ll try to get to later.
As you draw closer to the Lord Jesus and gain more understanding of our great salvation along with the everlastingness of the world to come, the things of this life lose their appeal. (another “telling of the obvious) When someone talks continuously about material gain or focuses on the things of this life, it becomes obvious that this is where their heart is anchored. The hear and now; the world that we currently see, hear, place our hands on, dominates their thoughts and issues of the everlasting become obscured. The natural man; the “different law working in our members” desires only the physical aspects of life and wants “me” to be the focus of all endeavors.
Philippians 2:21 “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christs.”
Until the moment that we leave the physical realm, this battle will be continuously ongoing. The battle to die daily to ourselves and our own best laid plans. To lay aside every little thing that causes us to stumble. To put away foolish jesting; a problem that I wrestle with constantly. It seems like a little thing to some, but goofing off really does lead to more ungodliness. It focuses on the here and now and soon, you find yourself having wasted a precious opportunity to relay truth to someone because you thought it would be funny to play a seemingly harmless practical joke on them. The practical joke, in itself, isn’t a problem. (providing nobody gets hurt) The problem with joking around is that it deprives one of opportunities to seriously present the gospel. This is something that I wrestle with daily and tomorrow, we return to work where the temptation to engage in foolishness abounds. Hitting someone with a gloveball brings absolutely no glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. It generates laughs which, in turn, focuses attention on “me.”
Proverbs 24:9 “The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.”
Ephesians 5:3-4 “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.”
Foolishness (talking and jesting) is listed in the same category as covetousness, fornication, and filthiness. This is why it must be put away and why I must continuously fight the urge to goof off. This isn’t easy as I’ve always enjoyed clowning around, but it’s imperative. There are folks all around us that are lost and undone. Folks who, if they are in a fatal accident while on their way home from work tonight, will be unprepared to stand before God. Folks; made in the image of God, whose sins have been paid for by our Lord Jesus Christ. Precious souls, hanging in the balance while we put too little effort into trying to reach them. Believe me; I’m pointing a finger right at myself on this as I’ve squandered more opportunities over the years than you can imaging.
This may sound legalistic to some. It really isn’t like that. When you surrender up something that seems fun, the Lord replaces it with so much joy and peace that there’s no comparison between the two. There have been nights where I drove home from work, repenting for all of the foolishness that I engaged in as it focused attention on “me” and kept the conversation grounded in the here and now. Likewise, there have been nights where I have drove home praising God for victory over the urge to engage in that which doesn’t profit. Believe me, praising God for a victory is far more joyful than repenting over sin. When we stumble, we must get it dealt with and Jesus is our High Priest forever. But I would much rather be thanking him for deliverance from temptation.
MY ONE NEW YEARS RESOLUTION. It ties in with that which this post is about and it comes from the following verse.
Zechariah 8:16-17 These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgement of truth and peace in your gates: And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.”
Speak truth to your neighbor. Lay aside everything that prevents you from being serious and speak the truth. When you are engaged in horseplay, it becomes nearly impossible to speak truth. Likewise, when you’re focused on “me” it’s equally difficult. When you speak truth, it’s often rejected and mocked. You may be called narrowminded when you tell someone that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. You may come under fire when you tell someone that sodomy is a blatant sin. When you tell the guy next door that he shouldn’t be practicing adultery, he may not like it very well. Nonetheless, sin is still sin; regardless of how “acceptible” it may be to this generation. My resolution this year is to proclaim truth; to seek every opportunity to share the gospel as time is ever so short. This is always my goal, but I’m determined to not be sidetracked by anyone; including “me.” I’m resolved to be “meekly, and compassionately, but brutally honest” with those around me. To do this properly, we must walk in the Spirit, and the concern over “me” has to go.
This applies to the brethren also. If something that’s being preached about is in error, I don’t want to shy away from bringing it up for the sake of unity. I’m not a confrontational person by nature and as a result, this isn’t easy. Nonetheless, it’s needed as folks today aren’t enduring sound doctrine. Two more verses before concluding this post.
II Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
John 8:32 “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Half-truths and smooth teachings cannot make anyone free. Allowing someone to feel that it’s alright to live in sin might help you win a popularity contest, but it will do nothing for those who need deliverance. The world today is filled with voices, but precious few are proclaiming truth. It’s my sincere prayer that we would all be more diligent in seeking every opportunity to share the gospel in these final moments of the age.