Sunday, December 07, 2008



In the struggle to "get over yourself" it's important to examine what I call the four clanging cymbals. A clanging cymbal is when what you say and do is absent the love of Jesus and therefore is a cymbal that doesn't make a certain and attractive sound, but an offensive, clanging sound. Each of the four clanging cymbals is countered by two of the eight qualities Peter lists as essential for being most effective and fruitful. The first clanging cymbal was SELF-DOUBT and was countered by FAITH and LOVE. The second was being SELF-DIRECTED and was countered by VIRTUE and BROTHERLY KINDNESS.

Today's clanging cymbal is SELF-IMPORTANCE. Self-importance continues the "self" theme that we are so good at embracing. What do you think of yourself? If you think of yourself wrongly or in the wrong way, it means your certain destruction! Paul warns of this problem in his letter to the followers of Jesus in Rome. He says: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. (Romans 12:3) So, be careful to have a right evaluation of yourself.

The question is not so much "What do you think of yourself?", but "What does God think of you?" If you understand what God thinks of you-his unconditional love and acceptance, it means life and confidence and hope! In the world of Alcoholics Anonymous there is a term that says it all: stinkin thinkin! The Twelve Steps speak of the need of being restored back to sanity. Note the first three steps:

Step #1-We admitted that we were powerless over our problem-that our lives had become unmanageable. Step #2-Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Step #3-Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care and direction of God.

The people Jesus opposed the most were the religious leaders who definitely thought more highly of themselves than they should have. When you have a high level of SELF-IMPORTANCE, you will find that you have a few common tendencies:

1. The tendency to out-share all that you have done-to speak evangelastically about your life-to overstate who you are. 2. The tendency to outdo one another, being caught up in the deadly spirit of comparison and competition. 3. The tendency to outsell one another-to convert others to your way of thinking. 4. The tendency to out-story one another. This is usually evidenced by not really listening to others share, but just waiting for the opportunity to match the story being shared, which brings the attention back over to you.

The good news is that no matter what your tendencies are, God totally accepts you as you are and loves you unconditionally. The Creator-God sent His Son, Jesus, in the flesh so that we can have a personal relationship with God. That's the Good News!

The two qualities that we can use to counter the clanging cymbal of SELF-IMPORTANCE are KNOWLEDGE and GODLINESS. The quality of knowledge is not a knowing of a series of facts, but an intimate knowledge-a personal knowledge-a relational knowledge. In a very familiar passage Paul gives a four-step process on how to change your thinking about yourself that will directly counter your sense of self-importance.

FIRST-Offer your body-Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is true worship.

SECOND-Overhaul your mind-Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.

THIRD-Obtain a servant's heart-For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

FOURTH-Operate in a group-For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

Knowledge is all about knowing Jesus better-to know Him. And as you come to know Jesus better, you will experience an automatic adjustment with respect to your self-importance.

Godliness is the natural outflow of this Knowledge. If you aren't getting to know Jesus better, all you have to focus upon is your self. And if your focus is upon you, then you will not be displaying godliness, but you will tend to play God. Playing God leads to an attitude of comparison with and condemnation of others. However, if you come to KNOW Jesus personally, you will naturally be a walking expression of GODLINESS. Paul says that the mystery of godliness is nothing other than JESUS.

So, here is how these two qualities work to counter the clanging cymbal of self-importance. Knowledge is to know Him and Godliness is to make Him known. That's it-to know Jesus and to make Him known. It's not all about you and your importance; it's all about Jesus and His preeminence above everything.