Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Living Dead, Part Four

I don't know about you, but I'm not doing so well on this test, and we're only halfway through.  Are you ready for number four?  Well, ready or not, here it is:

"When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or record your own good works, or itch for praise after an accomplishment, when you can truly love to be unknown. . . that is dying to self."

This one has a lot of facets to it, so let's break it down one by one, starting with "never care to refer to yourself in conversation."  Some of you may be thinking, Well, if I don't talk about myself, what am I going to talk about?  Let's face it.  We like to talk about ourselves, our dreams, our accomplishments, and we even have the gall to get upset if the recipient of our "conversation" doesn't seem as interested as we think he/she should be.  When was the last time we simply listened to someone else without waiting in expectation for our turn to talk?  The last time I checked, dead people don't talk. . . especially about themselves.

How about part two:  "itch for praise after an accomplishment"?  Lord knows, I have tried to work on this one.  The Lord has blessed me with a variety of talents, and I honestly want to use them for His honor and glory.  But I must admit that there is still a part of me that secretly longs for applause and praise.  "Beautiful offertory this morning, Dana."  "Wow, you did such a great job on that song."  "That lesson was exactly what I needed to hear.  How did you know?"  I admit, it feels good to hear these things, and I often struggle to find a way to turn the praise back to God.  This kind of leads into the next point:  "truly love to be unknown."

When was the last time we did something for someone else anonymously?  It's probably been a while, huh?  We don't mind doing things as long as everyone knows we did them, right?  We're so proud to point out the bathrooms that we cleaned at the church or the cookies we baked and carried to the shut ins, but all the while, God is disappointed.  Not that we're serving, but with the attitude with which we're serving.  Are we doing it for Him or for us?  Are we giving Him the praise for the opportunity to serve or are we hoping to gain praise for ourselves?

I believe today's point could be summarized by saying that those who are dead to self are not selfish and self-centered.  They put God's work and the needs of others before their own, and they do so without any hope of praise or recognition.  They are content to serve in the background, knowing that God knows what they are doing for Him and realizing that that is enough.

"When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or record your own good works, or itch for praise after an accomplishment, when you can truly love to be unknown. . . that is dying to self."

Die already, self!  Die!!!

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. - Philippians 2:3-4

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