(By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
It's one thing to take your work seriously, but it's another altogether to take yourself seriously. Our work as Christians is certainly to be done with the utmost of care and devotion. But the minute we get too wrapped up in ourself is the minute we start to go in a wrong direction.
Here is a test. Call it a "self-awareness" quiz if you like. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much time do you spend thinking about your personal importance on the planet? In other words, do you view yourself as indispensable? Do you tend to think of yourself as God's gift to mankind?
The message of our culture is often, "It's all about you." And it is so easy to buy into it. By nature, we want to believe that it is all about us. But then the Bible comes along and presents a radical message about our nature and our sinfulness. That can be quite a jolt to our system, especially if we have been riding a wave of self-importance.
How self-aware are you, and how "Christ-centered" are you? To be Christ-centered is to fix our thoughts on the Lord's importance. The biggest competitor to that agenda is "self." That guy wants the focus and the attention and the praise. Christianity kicks "self" to the curb and replaces him with a perfect substitute.
As Christians, we are always to take Jesus very seriously. And the only way to successfully do that is to "get over ourself." We have to get over how "awesome" we think we are in the big scheme of things. That sort of thinking only gets in the way of true discipleship.
Here is something to consider: God doesn't need you or me in order to get His will accomplished. It's true. He will do His work with or without us. And if we are led to become part of His work, it is only because He has graciously allowed us the privilege to serve Him and serve others. He is the Potter and we are the clay. It is His plan and His work that matters; not our "greatness" or even our "gifts." What good are gifts unless the Giver is working through them? And what good can come through a clay vessel that is filled with pride and a "look at me" attitude?
C.S. Lewis said, "A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you."
So where are you looking? Down on others? Or perhaps gazing at yourself with an attitude of superiority. Both of those pitfalls lead to trouble. Looking at Jesus on the other hand leads to peace.
The concentration camp survivor, Corrie ten Boom, said: "Look at the world and be distressed. Look within and be depressed. Look at Jesus and be at rest." Corrie discovered this "secret" through personal experience.
Our Lord put it this way: "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) A proud man will never bring his struggle or his sin to Jesus. He is too committed to the idea that he must carry it himself and attempt to solve it. This is what pride does to the human soul. And it is such a huge barrier to knowing God.
If you take yourself too seriously, you will not experience "childlike faith." And without it, you will never know God. Jesus said, "Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:2) Generally speaking, little children don't take themselves too seriously. That doesn't mean they are never bullheaded. But stubbornness is one thing, while pride is another. A stubborn man may reform his ways, but a proud man is a tougher nut to crack. He has placed "armor" around his soul, and that armor is his view of himself.
Why do you think there are so many people who never come to Christ to be forgiven? It's because they don't think they need Him. They feel "good enough" without the Lord. But feelings can be deceptive, especially when it comes to man's view of himself. This is why the Bible has so much to say about the deceitfulness of man's heart.
Just how deceitful is it? Well listen to the prophet Jeremiah: "The heart is deceitful above all things." (Jeremiah 17:9) Not just some things, but all things. That's a problem, especially for those who refuse to acknowledge the condition of man's heart.
This leads us back to the issue of taking ourself too seriously. Ultimately, it occurs because man doesn't know the truth about himself. He doesn't know just how far his sin has separated him from his Creator. If he did, he would quickly humble himself before the Lord and repent of His sin. He would acknowledge Christ as Lord over all, and the Savior of his soul.
That is, if he didn't take himself too seriously. It's a much bigger problem than you may think. For that matter, you may not have even realized until this moment just how proud you have been in your thinking about yourself and your Creator.
Are you ready to take Christ seriously? Or is that too big of a pill to swallow? The pill of pride is the only deadly drug that you must swallow in order to be delivered from it's clutches. Go figure. Cocaine and meth are devastating drugs, but pride destroys far more people than both of those drugs put together.
Learning how to defeat pride without taking yourself too seriously is one of the "secrets" of the Christian life. And the closer you walk with Jesus, the more "secrets" you will learn from firsthand experience and divine revelation.