We tend to take things for granted. Although we are made aware of some of those things we may be taking for granted, there are things which few of us give any thought. Being born brings with it some of the deeper truths of life that we just take at face value.
It’s a paradox, to say the least. Some of the deeper truths (our lamentable tendency to ‘categorize’ one truth as being deeper than another) of scripture are really right there “on the surface” and the only reason we don’t see them as clearly as we might is because we love to complicate things so when WE offer the solution, we can be seen as wise.
Although that’s another topic deserving of explanation it would certainly complicate this article.
So? What characteristic, what trait were we born with that we take for granted? Even though the careful consideration of it may unlock some of the deeper mysteries (which aren’t mysteries at all, but we like to call them mysterious, it appeals to our natural pride), but we won’t consider, even though it leads to our own personal freedom?
Look in your mirror. Take another look at that person and tell me some things about them that you’ve never considered before. What “key” do you see there that you’ve had all along that will unlock some biblical truths for you?
Or go for a walk, but this time, look at another realm that you’ve never given a moment’s thought. Notice some things about human beings that are so “normal” to us that we don’t consider how something so simple could be so beneficial. Do you see it?
It’s so simple, most of us miss it. But, take my word for it; it’s a physical truth that has a wonderful “twin” in the realm of the soul and spirit and “discovering” it will change two (or more) things; it will change how you see Jesus, yourself and the world around you. (Though the world around you remain unchanged itself).
Are you ready for this deep, dark mystery to be unveiled for you? Brace yourself; the telling of it is so simple that you’ll be tempted to ignore it. You may react by saying, “That’s stupid, everybody knows that.” And if you do, then you’ll perpetuate the bondage you claim to want release from.
Here it is: “Your entire being, your whole body will go in the direction your eyes are looking.” Wow! That’s deep! Not!
The truth about scripture is that there are no deep mysteries, not by our definitions or our finite (puny & limited) perspective. Because of sin, we take great pride (is there really an act of pride that we can rightly call “great”?), in making the simple hard. What makes any truth in scripture “deep” is the fact that those truths are right out in the open, but because we have a sinful need to be needed, we refuse to consider this and we bury them.
Didn’t Jesus say that it was the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom? Yes, we have His word on it in Luke 12:32? Why then do we have men and women who make it seem that the “deep” things of God have been granted to them first and we, the beggars, must come and grovel at their feet to receive them?
Before I seem too hard on those types of people, I need to tell you that I can be just that kind of a person when left to myself. I have come to see that there is within me a prideful, devilish inclination to confound the simple so that I can be seen as “the bible answer man.” There were times I’d spend literally hours talking to someone and I wouldn’t share the “bread from heaven.” I’d give them a stone.
The truth is; I didn’t want them to “want Jesus”, I wanted them to want ME first and have a minimal need for Him, but only under my direct supervision (or worse, under my influence). Now, before you’re too hard on me, I need to tell you that you are not immune from this either. It’s a residual trait inherited from our previous father, the devil, and none of us have to go too far to see it either. Which of us doesn’t take a measure of delight in being necessary in the life of another?
The Word of God is a sword, that’s true, but swords weren’t allowed in the temple, bread was. There is no sword in the outer court, inner court, the holy place or the “Holy of holies” but there is bread in the holy place. The only evidence of a sword in the Holy of holies is the scar of the wound inflicted on the Lamb as He hung on the cross.
Swords were (and still are) a device meant to be used in the dispatching of an enemy. Before soldiers were given a sword, they ate the bread that was given to them by the same men who would issue them a sword. But, make no mistake, bread is for fellow soldiers.
Fallen, and with that devilish “need to be needed” we have among us those men who have been asked for bread and are handing out stones. Rather than to take bread, (which is simple in its makeup and not just that, but it’s soft, warm, easily consumed and contains many nutrients that sustain physical life) and they offer instead, a stone.
Rather than offer simple truth, there are men who give in its place, something that is hard. They dispense (so-called) biblical truths, but they are so hard, so deep, so damaging to the person that the seeker is paralyzed because of pain and starvation, but they are still expected to “fight the good fight.”
Before I move onto the reason(s) for this topic, I need to say more about this current (sub) topic, because knowing man as I now do, I don’t have the luxury of writing in a way that will allow any man or woman to believe they are exempt from these tendencies that are within us all. If you believe that there is none of this resident within you, then you must take this (errant) belief to its only scripturally logical conclusion and emphatically state that you are a finished work.
Jesus asked a rhetorical question, but sad to say, His words aren’t given much thought. Or, if they are given the time of day, most messages place the emphasis on the wrong person. When He said in Luke 11:13,
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Did you notice what I just did? Did you also notice how easy it was for me to do it? Did you notice how something so simple just slipped right past you and you didn’t give it a moments thought?
Jesus didn’t ask a question! He made a statement! The words “how much more” make His words sound like a question and being lazy by nature, few of you noticed and continued on in your assumption that He asked a question and some of you even answered it. It’s just that easy to “pull the wool” over the eyes of man. Sunday after Sunday and Wednesday night bible study after Wednesday night bible study, the same thing is being carried out around the world.
The same thing applies to the “Paralysis of Analysis” and it happens just as easily.
The advocates, and its consequential adherents, of the “Self esteem” teaching are overlooking one simple truth about man. “I don’t need to love myself more, I already love ME” and I can prove that I love ME because I want to make myself more attractive to myself first and then to God and those around me. But, make no mistake, I already love me.
My grandson is eight months old and believe it or not I don’t have to convince him to think about himself. There isn’t a single thing I can say to convince him that he doesn’t already love himself. I didn’t have to teach him how to love himself. The entire span of our infinite universe revolves around him and with a simple cry, he can control every square inch of it!
He has the power to cause a bottle, which is in the kitchen, to be delivered directly to his present position and he alone determines if the contents of that bottle are to his liking. Every thing in Gods’ creation swirls around him. He loves himself!
Since he is a child, I not only understand this about him, but I make allowances for it, of course. What I’m having difficulty with is when the same “allowances” are made for such behavior in the life of a believer.
Rather than regurgitate the various way we are told to (dreadfully) take a look at ourselves, suffice it to say that any man or woman who tells us we need to have better, higher or healthier “self esteem” are calling Jesus a liar. Keep in mind that such advocates are entitled to their own wrong opinion.
We are told to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19) should be proof enough that we already love ourselves. But, in keeping with that devilish inclination to make ourselves more necessary in the life of another, it serves us well to complicate the simple and perpetuate our need to be needed. It’s the giving of a stone rather than bread spoken of in Matthew 7:9.
Truth be told, the fulfilling of the “need to be needed” is a subtle form of the same behavior that warranted Lucifer’s fall from the Kingdom. Actually, he didn’t “fall”; he chose his course and was “cast out.” To say he was thrown makes it sound like an accident, a misstep, instead of the calculating attempt to overthrow the Creator that led up to his being expelled.
The first question ever asked in the bible is “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) and it’s come about that the same question is being asked and answered today, but with a hellish fascination, focusing our attention continually on “self.”
Remember I mentioned earlier that your entire being and body will go wherever your eyes are looking. It’s inbred, natural and when a saint does it, it’s carnal. After all, none of us walk backwards; we walk toward the object we presently behold.
Self esteem is the same sin committed by Satan. He saw the Creator, his Creator, and all creation, but he saw himself as being above it all. No matter the depths to which this could be plumbed, it’s enough to say that he loved himself and he’d spent so much time loving himself more than God that he’d begun to think the way he did.
The remedy, the solution, the answer to our dilemma is found by looking at another question asked and recorded in scripture.
The very first question asked in the Old Testament was “Where are you?” and, (this is wonderful!) the very first question asked in the New Testament is “Where is He?” Matthew 2:2
The Old Testament shows exactly where man is in his relationship (or lack of) to his Creator, but the New Testament shows exactly where the Creator is in relationship to His creation. Those that tell us we need to examine ourselves are (to a degree) on to something, but it mustn’t stop there. If and when it does we will find ourselves suffering from the paralysis of (self) analysis and it follows then that since our eyes are (always) on ourselves, that we aren’t following Jesus, we are following self.
I’m following ME, because that’s exactly where my focus is. It’s that proverbial “dog chasing his tail” and the most you can expect from this is a well exercised dog that’s gone no where and his experience with the world around him is nothing more than a spinning room!
If and when I believe that the reason I can’t love God, people or myself more is because I have such a poor view of myself, I may be saying a truth, but it’s not the truth. Truth is “I already love ME” and really what I’m implying is that Jesus couldn’t possibly be right. Regardless of how many sermons, messages I hear and no matter how many retreats I go to, the fact of the matter is this;
The first question asked “Where are you?” has been both asked and answered of every man, woman or child who He has chosen.
We all know that we are lost. We all know that we are unworthy. We all know the sin that besets us individually. We are too aware of where we are. Staying there is the problem, rather, staring there.
The question that needs to be asked is “Where is He?” and it needs to be asked every moment we live and every day of the rest of our pilgrimage here.
The self esteem doctrine may have (little) use in answering the “Where are you?” question, but it can’t rightly be answered until we have answered the “Where is He?”
I’ll leave you to consider this with a story. It’s there for you in Isaiah 6:1 and we only need to read the first few words.
“In the year that King Uzziah died…I saw the Lord…” Beautiful!
When that man, whoever he is (which includes the man in the mirror) is dead, out of the way, powerless over you and no longer the ruler of your world, then and only then will you see the Lord!
But, when the old man dies, don’t take his corpse home, prop him up in a chair and try to love him more! You already love him, but life will continue to stink until you do what Lazarus did, die.
When Lazarus, who lay in the grave for four days of rot and decay came out of that place, he didn’t see himself, he saw Jesus! He went in the direction his eyes were looking. He had been paralyzed by death, but when he was raised up into newness of life, he no longer analyzed himself, he did what John said and we do well to do it as well, and that is to:
“Behold the Lamb of God…” He’s also the “Bread from heaven” and the only stone that we need to be aware of is the stony heart that insists we “love ourselves more” and allow even that stone to be crushed by two other stones.
The stone that was rolled away from His tomb and the Stone Himself.
When we analyze ourselves, we will be paralyzed. But when we analyze Him, we will be paralyzed, but in a glorious way that is not of this world. We’ll fall at His feet and worship!
Self esteem, as well as its demonic twin, self worth, insists that we see ourselves and find within self, something of worth.