Here’s a few of my friend Jim Groth’s thoughts for the week. I always get a lot of out of it, and I hope you will, too. Again, a big thanks to him doing this:
This week I got to thinking about the first page where there is a comparison between a self-centered life and a God-centered life. After looking over the lists given I thought this seems fairly obvious. No surprises here. Then I got to thinking about how to know when I am doing one or the other because our self-centered human nature is so subtle and self-serving. It is easy to think one’s actions are God-centered when actually they may be self-centered. This may be the case more often than we would like to admit.
Often we think a God-centered life is one that is focused upon not sinning. But in reality that is actually a life focused upon self-centeredness. This is true because a life that is pre-occupied with not sinning is always unsure of what to do or not do. It is worried about its standing with God because of behavior. It focuses upon what I am doing that is right or wrong and not what God has already done. It is preoccupied with self, which can and does quickly become pre-occupied with what others are doing right or wrong. A life like this has little left over to think about others, let alone love them.
The lesson quoted John 12:23-25 is about a man who loses his life in this world will keep it in the next. This not focusing upon sinning is part of losing yourself. Certainly this verse is about not putting your will before God’s will, but also is about getting so absorbed with what God has done and is doing that you lose yourself and your worries about your relationship with him based upon behavior and just rest in his work and glory.
In John 8:32 it says “ and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Free from what? The answer is free from self. Free from self-serving and self-centeredness to God-serving and God centeredness. This can only happens when one accepts the grace of God in Christ and applies it every day in every circumstance and situation. We must take our eyes off of ourselves and focus upon Jesus.
When trying to determine self-centered thinking verses God centered thinking I often apply this idea. I look inside to see if my motives are based upon fear, guilt and pride, or upon faith, hope and love. The self-centered life will always be operating based upon fear, guilt and pride, while the God-centered life will always operate upon the basis of faith, hope and love. When we do something because we feel afraid if we do not or guilt or for the gain of pride when are in the self-centered mode. When we do something based upon faith that this is God’s will and hope he will provide and love toward others we are in the God-centered mode.
One last comment, not to further confuse anyone, but to clarify the problem; almost always we operate based with mixed motivations and with self-centered motives as well as god-centered motives. So in application, we must not let our human nature with our self-centered motives shut down a God-centered action. Fear not… says Jesus.