Why do we spend so much time thinking about ourselves? Maybe you don’t have that problem, but I’m here to tell you I do. I get so frustrated when my thoughts continually slide back into the familiar groove labeled, “Geraldine.” I don’t want to do that! I long to instead busy my mind with the same considerations as the Lord. And before somebody protests, I know it’s impossible and not even healthy to never reflect on ourselves. We have to, at times, make decisions regarding our persons, etc. I’m referring to too much energy and time spent on oneself – revolving my world around me.
I even avoid reading after any author dedicated to exploring himself in nauseous detail. It seems a waste of time to read how someone adores movies and hates the smell of pine sol, or that only certain kinds of sheets are allowed to grace the bed, or that he or she loves squid, but only with the proper type of sauce. I strongly suspect those titillating revelations don’t make much of a difference in my attitudes or behavior. (Actually, I have to repent of a very bad attitude when I do slip up and read such an article.) It isn’t that they’re inadequate writers; the problem is their subject matter. Remember the old saying: if you’re all wrapped up in yourself, you make a mighty small package?
However, one doesn’t have to be a writer to qualify as a little parcel. Constantly focusing on ourselves – for any reason - is a habit that imprisons us in bands of steel. But, wait, if we dwell on our shortcomings and deficiencies (meekly putting ourselves down?), isn’t that humility? The following definition pretty much blows away that reasoning: “Being humble is not thinking lowly of ourselves; it’s simply not thinking of ourselves.” Which, by the way, is easier written than accomplished.
What’s the solution for being the center of our own undivided attention?
The consistent message of Scripture is that we’re not ourselves anymore - not the old self anyway – “Your old sinful self has died” (Col 3:3). Rom. 6:2 says that “We died to our old sinful lives, so how can we continue living with sin?” Chapter 12:2 admonishes that we “be changed within by a new way of thinking.” It’s not enough to merely try and ban sinful thoughts – we must purposefully replace ME with the fullness of God himself!! How?
Eph 3:16-19 has been calling me back to its wisdom often in the past few months. I keep reading it, trying to grasp what the Spirit is saying to me.
I pray that you … will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love – how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is. Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. (NCV)
Did you notice that Paul prays we’ll be able to know Christ’s love – even though he just said it’s greater than anyone can ever know? He has to mean knowledge that is more than mere head knowledge – we need that rich and vast knowledge quickened only by experiencing God. Walking with God, proving his love trustworthy in the valley of the shadow, or in the fire, or by stepping out into the unknown on faith. And what will be our reward if we grasp the wonder of the love of Jesus?
“You will be filled with the fullness of God” (verse 19). No room left for that parcel.