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.

A-Z: Kept Busy

Did you wonder what had happened to the A-Z challenge?  It’s all right; I didn’t forget what came after J!  But I had an electrician here on Friday, and when he left I had no Internet.  Never mind; I’m back now, and we’re onto the letter K.

I know I’ve done a series on Philippians before, but I’ve read it again recently and different things jumped out at me.  That’s one thing I love about God’s Word – however often you read it, there’s always something fresh and new.  First, this verse:  “Jesus Christ will keep you busy doing good deeds that bring glory and praise to God” – Philippians 1:11 (Contemporary English Version), so K is for Jesus keeping us busy, and He does.  It’s fantastic – the work He gives us to do for Him, but His love for us is the same, whatever we do or don’t do.

I hope my uncle wouldn’t mind me writing about him, but he once talked about a humanist funeral he went to.  He found it strange that no prayers were said.  Not knowing that 6 months later he’d be gone, he told us:  “I’m not a Christian – well … I don’t know, but I wouldn’t want anything like that.”  I’ve taken great comfort from that – that he couldn’t quite bring himself to deny Christ.  When he was in hospital, I gave him a copy of my first CD and he said:  “I’ll treasure that” …  I like to think it was his first piece of God’s kingdom-treasure.  My uncle didn’t spend his life serving God, but if in those last days or moments he put his faith in Jesus, the gates of heaven were wide-open for him, just as they are for me.  Isn’t that something worth celebrating?