This is an updated re-post from 2007. I was trying to put my heart into words this week, and then realized I already had, nearly three years ago. So, I refreshed it and added an excerpt from one of my favorite books. Blessings!
“The essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be.” John Stott
When viewed this way, my life here on earth comes more clearly into focus, and I am reminded that in all I do, I must keep the gospel central in order to keep me in my place, and Christ in His. To my shame, I must admit that I have been sorely neglectful in this. It is far too easy to drift (or race) through my days, consumed with the dailiness of life, forgetting eternal things, even when – or maybe especially when – those eternal things are part of my job description.
When kept in the forefront, the gospel changes who we are on every level. For this reason, I do not work to earn a living or to receive the praise of others, but to glorify God, because He gave His life for me. That changes the way I work, and the way I feel about even the most mundane assignments, the most menial tasks.
I do not love to receive love in return, but because the Savior of this world has first loved me, and desires to love others through me. That changes both who and how I love, and prevents me from becoming offended by the words and actions of others, regardless of their motives.
I do not serve to be served, but because I have already been served with the most unspeakable gift – the grace of God. That changes the way I treat others, and puts in me a servant’s heart, eager to give without thought of receiving in return.
I am painfully aware, as I have wandered dazedly through the past few weeks with little focus, little energy, and little cognizance of my true condition, that I have repeatedly put myself in the place of God in my life. When I make my own choices, contrary to His word and the urging of the Holy Spirit in my heart, I am assuming the throne of the Sovereign of Heaven. When I neglect to give Him the glory and praise due His name and testify to others of what He has done, when I fail to seek His wisdom and blessing on every aspect of my life, acknowledging Him as King of the universe, King of my heart, I am making an idol of myself, and a mockery of Him.
So, where does that leave me? How do I remove myself from the place of God in my heart, and allow Him in? The truth is, I can’t. And that has always been my problem. I am completely powerless to act with sovereignty in my own life, because I am not sovereign. God is. My sinful attempts to supersede Him on the throne have proven that my only hope is to ask God Himself to cast down my idols and take possession of my heart. I love these words from the book Christ’s Object Lessons:
“In one way only can a true knowledge of self be obtained. We must behold Christ. It is ignorance of Him that makes men so uplifted in their own righteousness. When we contemplate His purity and excellence, we shall see our own weakness and poverty and defects as they really are. We shall see ourselves lost and hopeless, clad in garments of self-righteousness, like every other sinner. We shall see that if we are ever saved, it will not be through our own goodness, but through God’s infinite grace…
“No outward observances can take the place of simple faith and entire renunciation of self. But no man can empty himself of self. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish the work. Then the language of the soul will be, ‘Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul.'”
If you have never read this book, please get it – I cannot commend it highly enough. This excerpt is from Chapter 13, Two Worshipers, one of my favorites. The entire book will leave you breathless at the beautiful grace of God.
I am so grateful that God loves me enough to reveal, and then mercifully remove, my sinful arrogance. I can only say with the Psalmist, “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that Thou thinkest of him? Ps. 8:4
My prayer today is that I will choose to keep the gospel as the central focus of my life, and keep my Savior in His rightful place on the throne of my heart. I humbly invite you to do the same.