you’re probably familiar with john the baptist’s great insight, “He must increase, i must decrease.”
i think we (believers) have a basic understanding of that truth. denying our wills to pursue and submit to Christ, while not necessarily easy, makes sense as we live the Christian life.
BUT, and maybe i’m alone here, i think denying my SELF is much more than just denying what i want. it’s often about denying who i am. i think this because i’ve noticed, again, mainly in myself, that believers tend to justify their flesh by “wrapping” it around spiritual things. what i mean is, if my natural personality is abrasive or insensitive or prideful, it’s really easy to present/defend/”stand on” biblical truth and hurt people or be a first class butt about things. i’ve addressed this line of thinking before, but i think God is still grinding me down about it! i know my tendency is to chalk up certain things to “that’s just how i’m wired.”
God has obviously wired us all uniquely and specifically and i’m not suggesting all of our personalities should dissolve so that we’re a bunch of Christ-bots with no humanity in us. BUT we should be characterized by Christ and we should deny the flesh. the point is that people see Christ, not us. this is the tension i’m constantly trying to figure out. less of me, more of Him.
maybe this is elementary Christianity, but i see this being an issue in a lot of believers and specifically in ministers/pastors. because our personalities/emotions are natural, we embrace and justify them, but our sin is natural, too, and we seek to deny it. where is that line drawn? denying ourselves is made up of more than just doing what Christ wants. it means doing the things Christ wants with the attitude Christ would have. of course, the key to that is wanting what Christ wants so much so that it becomes what “we” want.
i’m reminded of Psalm 37:4
“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
and Philippians 2:13
“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
and this just in from a potential intern’s application/testimony
“God is ruining my life”
(in the context and heart of his statement, i think that’s a great way to look at it. his goals, dreams, ambitions, etc. are all trumped by God’s will for his life.)
submitting ALL of ourselves to Christ results not just in changed actions but changed motives and attitudes. which, i have to believe, means less of our “edgy personalities” (rudeness), less of our “carefree approach” (apathy), less of our “undying conviction” (foolish stubbornness), etc. and more humble service. and that’s genuine humility, not the kind i’ve been known to feign so people will notice! this is a vigilant task, because i believe God uses our unique and natural personalities, quirks, “wirings,” etc. to do His kingdom work. that’s why it’s so easy to let the guard down in these areas. but i have to imagine that ministers around the world are often doing more harm than they should by not getting enough of themselves out of the way as God works.
trust me, this post is as much a confession as a charge to fellow believers. (probably more so!)
anyway… i’m not on the other side of this battle (hence the post title.) i doubt i’ll ever be. i’m not sure any Christian ever really is. i’m just sayin’.