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December 20, 2017, 8:13 AM

Healthy Christ-esteem

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5, NIV)

The Apostle Paul was deeply concerned in all his letters, not only with doctrinal purity, but behavioral consistency between belief and action, convictions and character, piety and personality. Throughout his writings he persistently and decisively deals with the problem of people who name Christ as Lord but have not allowed Him to transform their hearts – their personalities and character disorders. The last line, “having a form of godliness but denying its power,” means believers who have the outward trappings of rites, rituals, and rules of religion, but in areas of their lives have denied the Lord’s transforming power. All of the character and personality disorders Paul lists out are a denial of the power of the Lord to break chains and radically change lives.

As we consider the inventory Paul provides, I pray that you and I will have the honesty to see areas in which we need to change and that we would be given the courage to ask the Lord to transform what needs to be changed. When you come to a category that does not apply to you, praise the Lord that you are not troubled by that. But dare to be boldly courageous. Make “I will be absolutely honest with myself and the Lord” your motto in the areas that are a problem to you.

For example, let’s consider the first character disorder on Paul’s list: “lovers of themselves.” The fundamental problem Paul focuses on here is misdirected love. The self is meant to be the container and transmitter of the Holy Spirit, not the object of worship instead of God. The problem is self-centeredness. This is a sin we often tolerate in ourselves and suffer stress from others. Self-centeredness must be seen for what it is: apostasy, the departure from loving God to undue, obsessive, and eventually compulsive focus on ourselves: what we want, how others treat us, our rights, our feelings. It is the opposite of healthy Christ-esteem, loving ourselves as loved by Him.

Self-centeredness turns us inward on the self as worthy of worship; Christ-esteem fills the self with love for God; for ourselves as forgiven and saved by His grace; and then turns us outward to live sacrificially for others. Self-centeredness can ruin marriages, debilitate friendships, disrupt churches, and wreak havoc on entire communities. Now it is not for me to tell you if self-centeredness is ever your problem, but you can. And if you do, and if you ask for the Holy Spirit to redirect your worship away from self to the Lord, He will help you do just that – if you truly want Him to.

Let us join in prayer: Speak, Lord, for your servant hears. Grant me ears to hear, eyes to see, a will to obey, a heart to love; then declares what you will, reveal what you will, command what you will, demand what you will. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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