Freedom From Self-Centeredness
John 12:24-26; Galatians 2:20
The Benefits Of Self-Surrender
There is only one way adequately to deal with self-centeredness and pride. That way is the way of self-surrender. "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." (Matthew 16:24-25)
Surrender to Christ leads to a right relationship with God, with yourself, and with others.
First, you are freed from the bondage of self-worship to worship of God alone. The irony is this: the more you worship yourself, the more you loath yourself, for you are not made to worship yourself. You are made to worship God alone. Self-worship leads to self-loathing!
Second, when you transfer your worship from self to God alone, you automatically find that you have a new love for yourself. Loving God supremely, you find that you love yourself subordinately. So surrender to Christ gives you a freedom from self-despising and enables you wholesomely to love yourself. "Since you are able to live with God, you are able to live with yourself, to be at home with yourself and rather like yourself. For loving Someone beyond yourself, and more than yourself, you are now free to love yourself." (How To Be A Transformed Person; E.S. Jones; pg. 196)
Third, full surrender to Christ sets up a right relationship to people. On the one hand you are delivered from self-preoccupation. On the other hand, you are delivered from herd bondage – bondage to the group. You are delivered from yourself, in order that you may serve God. You are delivered from peer pressure in order that you may serve people. "The herd urge, hitherto fastened on the futilities of allegiance to society around, is now cleansed from that enslaving bondage and fastened on the fruitfulness of the Kingdom of God. You do not become unsocial, but loving God supremely you can love others subordinately, subordinately, but with a love intensified, you love others with his love." (A Song of Ascents; E.S. Jones; pg. 54)
"The surrender which seems downward, laying down your arms, is actually a surrender upwards. It is a surrender to creative love… It is a paradox, but you are never so much your own than when you are most His. Bound to Him you walk the earth free. Low at His feet you stand straight before everything else. You suddenly realize that you have aligned yourself with the creative forces of the universe so you are free – free to create and free to love, free to live at your maximum, free to be, to be all He wills you to be." (Victory Through Surrender; E.S. Jones; pg. 33)
"Father, as the loose wire surrenders itself to the dynamo, as the paint surrenders itself to the artist, as the marble surrenders itself to the sculptor, and as the ink surrenders itself to the writer, so enable me, a mere man to surrender myself to the almighty Christ. Then I shall find myself throbbing with divine energy, creating love movements wherever I go!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Surrendering the 'title deed' of my life to Christ makes me feel truly 'at home' with myself!
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Acts 12:20-25; Proverbs 16:18
Devastating Results Of Self-Centeredness
Christ has come to deliver from self-centeredness – that universal human disease that manifests itself in a perverted misplacement of self on the throne of life rather than God on the human throne. Self-centeredness and pride are close kinsmen! Pride is the foulest of all sins, and yet the sin that is often disguised as a mere human weakness, of little consequence.
Why is pride the foulest of all sins? For several reasons, some of which we can identify.
Pride results in the dethroning of God! Pride is foul because pride puts oneself in the center of life – the place reserved for God alone! Pride exalts self and causes self-worship rather than worship of God.
Pride is foul because it makes persons into things to be manipulated. Pride relegates every other person to a minor role in the world, resulting in the exploitation of others, the thingification of persons, using others as a means to the end for selfish advancement. Others are seen as small- part actors with oneself as the main actor on the stage of life.
Pride is foul because it constructs barriers in society. All racism and wars and hatred and bitterness is born out of pride. Pride robs men and nations of peace. Pride builds walls between Germans and Frenchmen, between Russians and Poles, between male and female, between blacks and whites, between educated and the illiterate.
Pride is a foul sin because pride builds barriers between man and God. Pride separated the most beautiful angel from God, and made the greatest of all angels into the lowest of all demons. Pride not only changed Lucifer into Satan, but pride causes man the creature to usurp the place of God the Creator. 'Glory to man in the highest' is the motto of modern-day man. Pride makes man self-sufficient. Instead of glorifying God, man glorifies himself! The humanist philosophy is totally centered on man – even deifying man.
Pride is a foul thing because pride, ruling in one's heart, makes forgiveness impossible. "We remember insults long after we have forgotten sorrows. We-bridle if someone treats us with contempt and recall the experience with inward anger twenty years after. We are touchy about our birth, our status, our ability… All these are marks of pride." (The Secret of Radiant Living; William Sangster; pg. 66)
"Father, all other enemies can be conquered if my greatest enemy can be conquered – the enemy of an unsurrendered 'self'. Crucify my arrogant, thrustful, debased, and dominating self, and resurrect me to live an unselfish, Christ-centered life. By Christ's power. Amen."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: To love myself wholesomely is to die to all self- centeredness!
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Egocentricity – The Central Problem
The central problem behind all problems is the problem of egocentricity – that is, putting oneself at the center of his universe.
"There's a Jewish legend about a group of people in a lifeboat. One of them began to saw a hole in the part of the boat directly below his seat. The others yelled at him to stop. He said, defiantly, 'This is my place; I can do what I want with it.' They answered, 'Yes, but if you do what you want, we'll all drown.'" (Canadian Free Methodist Herald; May, 1979; Donald Bastain)
That legend reminds one of the person who is living a self-centered life, oblivious to the needs and rights of others. The self-centered person, like the individual in the legend who wanted to saw a hole in the boat, is a person who is on a course of self-destruction. And while he destroys himself, he can destroy others who are depending upon him.
'Self' in control rather than Christ in control is the cause of all real problems. When several were asked what their greatest need was, here are the answers of several: "I am so full of needs. My greatest need is to surrender myself – lose myself in Christ. I take a handful of pills. I seem to be running away from something." A pastor said: "I'm a 'self-holic' – I'm addicted to myself." A Swedish woman: "I came here with a self I don't like, and yet I have to live with myself." A skeptic said: "I'm glad I don't believe in eternal life. I wouldn't want to live with myself forever." (Victory Through Surrender; E.S. Jones; pg. 11,12)
"Someone asked the head of a mental institution: 'I suppose these people in here are beside themselves?' 'Oh no', he replied, 'they are very much themselves. They don't think of a thing except themselves. They are pickled in themselves. That's why they are here.'" ( Ibid; pg. 14)
"Whether you center upon yourself for artistic, for religious, for financial, or for just purely selfish reasons, the result is the same – the self goes to pieces." (Abundant Living; E.S. Jones; pg. 43)
"Just as my fingers are rooted in the palm of my hand, so all these outer sins are rooted in the unsurrendered self. Why do we get angry and 'blow our top'? Because someone has crossed the self. Why do we lie? Because we think it will be some advantage to the self. Why are we dishonest? Same reason. Why are we impure? Because we think it will be some pleasure to the self. Why are we jealous and envious? Because someone is getting ahead of the self. All these outer sins are only fruit – the unsurrendered self is the disease." (Victory Through surrender; pg. 30,31)
"Father, to center on myself is to lose myself; to lose myself in your person and plans is to find myself. Help me to make a complete surrender, barring nothing! In Jesus' name. Amen."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: If I surrender all to the Lord of life, I will receive all from the Lord of life, for self-surrender leads to self- realization!
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Proverbs 14:12; Matthew 16:24-25
Various Methods In Dealing With 'Self'
There are many ways to deal with the 'Self'. Depending upon the way we deal with the 'self', we will get either negative consequences or positive results.
There are many inadequate ways to deal with the 'self'. (1) Eliminate the 'self'. But this is impossible, for to eliminate self would be to extinguish personal existence. (2) Know Thyself. But only through knowledge of Christ can one have knowledge of himself. There is a great identity crisis in modern times – people trying to know themselves. Some use drugs as a means of unlocking their inner self. who is able to reveal the inner identity of man but the Creator of man? (3) Accept Thyself. But how can you accept an unacceptable self, one that is full of conflicts, guilts, frustrations, inferiorities, inhibitions, cynicism, self-loathing? TO accept that kind of self is to become unacceptable to one's self. Many feel that they are one big bundle of contradictions, and to ask someone to accept that kind of self is to ask one to become a contradictory person – frustrated completely. Most don't like a lot of things about themselves. (4) Express Thyself. This is not satisfactory, for when many persons are expressing themselves they are expressing carnal, competitive, unconverted, self-centered selves. This sets the stage for clash, confusion, jealousy, and strife. Hell can be defined as a group of self- centered people, all expressing themselves! One cannot cure the disease of self-centeredness by advising all to express their unconverted selves! (5) Center Upon Thyself. To center on self is to frustrate man's altruistic capacity. Man is made to center on Christ and others; to center primarily on self is to be off-center, hence deep frustration. The frustrated self is a self which is alienated from others, alienated because people don't like self-centered persons. People who center upon self, "Start out to draw life to themselves – its joys, its thrills – and all they succeed in drawing to themselves is sadness and disillusionment and sickness – spiritual, mental, and physical." (Abundant Living; E.S. Jones; pg. 45) (6) Defend Thyself. But constantly to be guarding and defending oneself is to dissipate energy which should be spent relating redemptively to others. Such a person is oversensitive, and oversensitive people are critical people and unproductive and non-creative.
Each of these six methods which the world offers, leaves the 'Self' in the center, a 'Self' that is divided and frustrated. They all lead to bondage, not freedom.
"Father, there are ways that seem right unto the world, but the end of those ways is spiritual death. Surrendering my 'Self' to you totally enables me to know myself truly, to accept myself gladly, to express myself lovingly. To center on myself is to lose myself inevitably. I choose to make you the Lord of my 'Self'. In Jesus' name. Amen."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: A purified 'Self' is a 'Self' set free to realize its fullest potential in Christ!
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Steps To Full Surrender
First, recognize that God is the Center and not you. The humanistic mood of our day puts man at the center of life, with a consequent denial or neglect of God Almighty. You must remember that you are creature, not Creator; son, not Father; subject, not master; steward, not Lord; man, not God! You must determine that God shall have the same place in your life as He has everywhere else in His vast universe – Center!
Second, draw near to God, and determine with your will to make a full surrender of yourself to God, in spite of your hesitation and fears. Remember, when you surrender to God you are surrendering to a Christlike God. You are surrendering to a God who is all-loving, that is to a God who wants what is best for you. You are surrendering to a God who is all-wise, that is, to a God who knows what is best for you. You are surrendering to a God who is all-powerful, that is, to a God who is able to give what is best for you. Such a God can be trusted, and such a God is worthy of being your Master. You have nothing to fear when you place yourself in the care and keeping of a loving Master!
Third, surrender yourself fully to God's cleansing and creative love. Your 'self' has been frustrated because you have tried to accept an unacceptable self. Now accept yourself as a cleansed self – cleansed of guilts, frustrations, inferiorities, cynicism, fears, etc. Your self is cleansed by Jesus! There is power in the blood of Christ – power to cleanse the deepest stains of self-centeredness from your soul! You can accept a new self which increasingly is becoming Christlike!
Your 'self' has been frustrated because you have expressed your 'self' in a social setting which has been competitive and comparative. This has led to jealousy and strife. Now accept yourself, no longer in horizontal competition with your peers, but as a self which is in the process of vertical development – upward and onward toward the unique standard which God has designed for you. You no longer need to compare and to compete with others – outwardly. God is now your standard, not others. Now you grow and develop with God – upwardly. The fact that God is your standard, releases you, on the one hand, from the contentious and contemptuous atmosphere of peer competition and stress. The fact that God is your standard releases you, on the other hand, from the complacent attitude of self-sufficiency and easy contentment with your present attainments. You are delivered from the stress of carnal competitions, and delivered to the creative pursuits of divinely-given goals.
"Father, cleanse me from all self-centered living, in order that I may be creative in God-centered living. Cleanse me from the negative in my carnal selfhood, in order that I may be creative in your consecrated selfhood. Release me from all horizontal competition and give me your energy to pursue God-given goals. In Jesus' name. Amen."
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: What Christ cleanses, He also fills. Cleanses from sin, and fills with Himself!
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1 John 1:7-2:2 (1 John 1:1-10 – 1 John 2:1-2)
A Working Way To Live
We continue with the steps to full surrender.
Fourth, after you have given yourself fully to Christ, be bold to take Christ fully as the Lord of your entire life. When you surrender all, the Spirit of God cleanses all. When you surrender all, the Spirit begins creatively to work through you to glorify God, to benefit others, and to bless you. "God will take you as your are and begin to make you what you ought to be… Through identification with him you now begin to learn to take from Him. You are strong in His strength, pure in His purity, loving in His love, victorious in His victory… You live no longer on the unit principle, but on the cooperative plan. You supply willingness and He supplies power." (Victory Through Surrender; E.S. Jones; pg. 109)
Fifth, surrender daily to Christ's love, and allow Him to work in you as He wills. "You have said 'All' to Him and He has said 'All' to you. But there are a lot of little 'alls' under the big 'All'. They will come up day by day and little surrenders will have to be made, made about things and issues you did not realize would be involved. So the surrender is a blanket once-for-all surrender, but also an unfolding surrender. As you have given all you know and all you don't know, the 'don't knows' have to be dealt with as they arise. How? By a continual surrender. You do not fight or suppress the issue, you turn it over to Him and say: 'I am Yours and this thing concerns me, so this is Yours, too. I surrender it. Tell me what to do about it.' That keeps problems and issues from piling up and making you tense and burdened. It is a continual catharsis. You' are saved from the tension that comes from suppressing things and driving them into the subconscious sphere where they fester, and also from evading the issues in which case they nag us from the margin of consciousness. You are fulfilling that verse, 'But it we walk in light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Sin cleanses us from all sin'. (1 John 1:7) By walking in the light, holding nothing back, you have a continuous fellowship with Christ and a continuous cleansing of your problems and sins. It is a working way to live." (Victory Through Surrender; E.S. Jones; pg. 110)
Surrendering to the lordship of Christ leads to unlimited freedom – freedom to be your true self, freedom to be fulfilled, freedom from fear, freedom to serve people without being in bondage to people, freedom to be creative, freedom to live in harmony with the Universe!
"Father, I see that I have only one true freedom in life – the freedom to choose the Master of my life. How I exercise that freedom determines my destiny – for time and eternity! If I refuse to surrender to You, I choose to surrender to pessimism, to hopelessness, to negativism, to futility, to self-destruction!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I choose to make a once-and-for-all 'blanket' surrender to Christ, and then to learn daily to surrender every new detail of my life to the lordship of Christ!
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Discussion Questions On 'Freedom From Self-Centeredness'
How can the universal human disease of self-centeredness best be described, in terms of its practical manifestations?
What is the difference between self-esteem and pride?
Why is 'pride' considered to be such a foul sin?
If it is true to say that humiliation is a perversion of humility, is it also true to say that pride is a perversion of self-esteem?
What Biblical support can you show for the concept that 'Self-surrender leads to self-realization'?
Is it realistic to say that pride is the 'hub' from which all other sins are simply the 'spokes'?
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Just as my fingers are rooted in the palm of my hand, so all these outer sins are rooted in the unsurrendered self."
List and describe six different ways of dealing with the 'Self', all of which are ineffective.
What relationships are made right, through a full surrender of one's Self to Christ?
List and describe the benefits that derive from a full surrender of one's Self to Christ.
Do you agree with the following statement: "It is a paradox, but you are never so much your own than when you are most His. Bound to Him you walk the earth free. Low at His feet you stand straight before everything else."
When God becomes your standard by which you grow and develop, instead of others, from what two bondages are you released?
List and describe the steps to 'Full Surrender'.
What is the relationship between the 'blanket once-for-all surrender' to God and the daily 'unfolding surrender' to God?
What experience have you had with implementing the principles of 1 John 1:7 as a 'working way to live'?
List several of the 'freedoms' one enjoys as a result of making a full surrender of his life to Christ.
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