The Truth About Self

This week’s Tuesday at Ten prompt is truth – that thing that’s so vital in processing what we hear, so we can live our lives well. Jesus said: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life”, which is why it’s so important to find out what He thinks about us and our lives.

Lately, I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about self. As an example, here’s a quote from a friend’s update on Facebook:
“Apparently happiness has replaced goodness. We all strive for what will make us happy, to fulfil our desires, to satisfy our needs & dying are the thoughts for doing good. Its all about us. Praying that I’ll change my selfish ways to wanting to make a good choice, to please God with my actions instead of pleasing myself. Happiness only lasts for a time but doing good lasts forever.”

At first glance, this might give the impression that all God wants is for us to do good, paying no attention to our feelings and having no thought for ourselves or our happiness. I admire people like my friend, who’ve given up some of their own comforts to accomplish something greater for God, but I also love my friends dearly and don’t want to see them working themselves into the ground whilst forfeiting their happiness. I’d rather see them work less and smile more, but does Jesus agree?

Just today, I listened to a radio-programme about self-obsession, and the presenter said: “The whole point of following Jesus is that it’s nothing about yourself at all” – again, same impression. If I took just these two quotes on their own, I might be left wondering if God really cared about me.

“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life,” says Jesus, so let’s look for the truth in God’s Word. “God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to Him” (1 Peter 5:7), and one of my favourite verses: “The LORD be exalted, who delights in the wellbeing of His servant” (Psalm 35:27). God delights in our wellbeing – mine and yours. If I had to make a judgment about God, I’d say He’d rather see us work less and smile more too.

Of course doing good is important. “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). “Let us not become weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9). Doing good is essential to the outworking of our Christian faith, but not at the expense of our joy. I was just thinking about the phrase: ‘Find your joy in the LORD’. Where do you think it’s used in the Bible; in connection with working for Him?

Actually, it’s used in connection with Sabbath – with God’s day of rest. “If you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honourable, and if you honour it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

There were two sisters who were friends of Jesus while He lived on earth: Martha and Mary. Basically Martha beetled about trying to get everything done, while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to Him. Jesus said Mary had made the better choice (Luke 10:42). Perhaps, rather than striving to do good or striving for happiness, our life’s goal should be intimacy with Jesus. Out of that will come everything else we need to live our lives for Him.

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6 thoughts on “The Truth About Self

  1. I enjoyed you post. Particularly the scriptures you chose. I’ve taught a few times, particularly around the this time of year about Martha and Mary; a wonderful example for you post.
    A visiting neighbor from Tuesday at Ten.
    Blessings,
    Andrea

  2. I enjoyed reading your post. Such a great reflection in a world that is so me focused sometime it is hard to remember that God is the one where our focus should be. I hope I can make the better choice and sit at God’s feet instead of do, do, do.

  3. I enjoyed this Sarah – intimacy with Jesus should be our goal. I agree. Very well written. In a book I’m reading now about the role of a pastor it says:My job is not to solve people’s problems or to make them happy but to highlight the grace evident in their lives. This is hard because our whole culture says that if your good and smart enough you can solve all your problems…The truth is there aren’t very many happy people in the Bible. But there are people experiencing joy, peace, and the meaning of Christ’s suffering in their lives.’ Joy recognizes God’s presence in the midst of problems and acknowledging His grace in difficult situations and that He is working things out for our good. As an aside, if we strive for happiness we end up miserable and defeated – what truly makes us happy and what happiness truly lasts? Our spouses, our kids, money, health, life…all disappoint – This not to say that God doesn’t want us to feel joy and fulfillment it’s about how much we invest in those things that he know ultimately are not stable…intimacy with Christ most definitely is what counts.

    • I’ve never thought of reading a book on the role of a pastor, probably because I don’t want to be one. 🙂 When you’re a pastor taking care of the church, that must be a big temptation to want to solve people’s problems.

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