The tyranny of self

Church bulletin:

There is a right kind of self-consciousness. We should be conscious of the fact that our lives affect other people. Being aware of unhelpful traits we can curb them so as not to be a stumbling block and the cause of offence. We should also be mindful that our lives are to bear witness to the gospel and surely, we want to do that well. Every Christian should desire to be a good advertisement for the Christian faith. Furthermore, being self-aware means that we don’t shame ourselves, or those close to us.

There is also a debilitating kind of self-consciousness. It is driven by the perception that we need to measure up.  We place too much weight on other people’s opinions and expectations. We berate ourselves for not doing better. We exasperate our short comings and blow them out of proportion. We end up being shackled by an obsessive attitude of wanting approval or recognition. The problem ultimately rests with us, we have allowed people to get into our heads. Three points to remember:

Our approval is in Christ. Apart from inappropriate behavior, speech, attitudes, etc. does it really matter how we are perceived? Why allow the opinions of someone else to dictate what you do or don’t do. Why allow their opinions to affect you emotionally. The only approval you need to be concerned with is God’s, and you have it in Christ. You are eternally loved, accepted, forgiven. You have it all.

God is our judge. 1 Cor 4:3-4, But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. (4) For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.” We will all stand before the Lord and give an account of our lives. We must live to please Him rather than trying to climb the hill of human acceptance – which is never attainable. The fear of man is a snare and most often it will lead us away from the purposes of God.

Self-examination does not mean self-interrogation. 2 Cor 13:5, Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves……….. There is a place for self-examination, but not as an endless muck-raking exercise. As Paul said in 1 Cor 4:3, “I do not even judge myself” – let alone submit to the scrutiny of others. None of us have to dig too deep before we find sin, weakness, failure etc. We are to look over our lives with a view to addressing areas which are inconsistent with our faith. The aim is repentance and growth. We are not to tear ourselves apart through morbid introspection, comparing ourselves to others and being overly mindful of what they may think or say about us.

It is often said we can be our own worst enemy. We are our own worst enemy when we live imprisoned by unhealthy self-consciousness; allowing ourselves to be shackled by the opinions and expectations of others. Forget about them and it will help you to forget about self, focus on your walk with God and get on with life.