“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” ~ Philippians 2:12-13
“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” ~ 1 Corinthians 9:27
I am writing this because someone suggested, in response to a poem, that I am being too hard on myself.
I have to wonder about that. Of course I consider this for myself alone.
When I read verses like I have quoted here it seems the Lord is encouraging us to be hard on ourselves. Discipline is a rigorous thing, yet Jesus compared it to being better than being one of the dead who should be left to bury their dead.
Now I know some of us have said, “Jesus took our pain so we wouldn't have to.” as if that was a license to be easy on oneself. It seems to me, rather, that Jesus took our punishment so anything that comes our way would not be anything like what we deserved. I can be hard on myself because it is not like being condemned by God. After all, who's judgment is the most severe?
Now it would be pride to expect something from us that can only be attributed to the Lord, but we are called to be disciplined, obedient and repentant through sacrifice of our ego and self-will. Those are not things to be taken lightly. If I know I cannot outdo the Lord then it seems I should subject myself to accountability and responsibility. If I fail through sin it is because I was delinquent regarding partaking of the resources God made available to me through Jesus' death and resurrection.
Of course, what is being harder on ourselves? When we are subjecting ourselves to the Lord's counsel and commandments, or wallowing in anger, fear or bitter resentment:
"The merciful man does good for his own soul, But he who is cruel troubles his own flesh." ~ Proverbs 11:17
It seems to me I am really being hard on myself when I am being cruel as a practice on others. Remember: there is a reason it is called “works” of the flesh. For the believer it takes more work to be disobedient than it does for one practicing righteousness, and being righteous is not all that easy.
But then it is like I saw on a bumper sticker:
Jesus never said it would be easy. He just said it would be worth it.
Then there is the following, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” ~ 2 Corinthians 7:10
Godly sorrow is hard, difficult to endure and face. But it is also something “not to be regretted.” That sounds beneficial and there is just something beneficial about being right with the Lord. But then let us not forget about heaven and eternity. That is where it seems we can be easy on ourselves.