Francois Fenelon rightly said, “A man’s self is his greatest cross.”
What is the self? It is that which scripture refers to as the “old man.” A person’s self is that part of his being which he most easily, and naturally, identifies with. You know him as you. I know him as me. And yet, he is neither you nor me. The fallen self is part of a creation that died with Christ on the cross and is no more. But it’s just so hard to believe that, especially on days like today, for me at least, when the fallen self, the old man, or the sin which dwells in my body (whichever you want to call it), seems so very much alive.
But he is not alive. Not on my good days and not on my bad days. “I” was crucified with Christ a long, long time ago.
Perhaps the hardest thing to see, though, and yet one of the most important, is that it is ourselves which is the cause of all our hard times and difficulties in life. Difficulties in relating to other people, in getting along with others, in having a good time despite bad circumstances. It is not the outward things we think are causing us all the trouble, it is really ourselves which those outward things are playing upon.
Can you say amen to that? If so, I dare say you are on the road to deliverance. Deliverance from the tyranny of your (and my) self.
This morning has been a rough one for me. I stayed up late last night and woke up early this morning, so I was cranky. Still am, to be honest. Kids are running around like crazy, fighting, yelling, ect. I feel put out by the needs of other people. All I want is my personal space, some quiet time. A few moments to do what I want to do and not what other people need me to do. Sound familiar?
Then as I was sitting here groveling I saw very clearly that none of these outward things is my problem. Rather, it is myself. Things are not my problem, and not even you are my problem, no matter how much you annoy me. 😉 No, I am my own problem. Nothing and no one else.
We think of deliverance in terms of outward things. We think in terms of, “God, take this annoying person out of my life,” or, “God, remove this difficult circumstance.” But the only reason these kinds of things trouble us is that there is something in us which is so easily troubled. And God is much more interested in transforming us from within, saving us from the tyranny of a fallen life that has no ability to relate to other people, overcome adversity, ect., than He is in delivering us from our bothersome circumstances into an insulated, bubble-like existence that demands no faith and patience at all on our own part.
Try to remember this the next time you have a conflict with someone or your daily circumstances are making you miserable. Allow me to warn you, though, it’s almost certain you’ll forget. We all do. So consider this a friendly reminder. Next week it will be your turn to remind me. 🙂