February 13, 2011
Bondage to Self
“But if you are selfish and have bitter jealousy in your hearts, do not brag. Your bragging is a lie that hides the truth. That kind of “wisdom“ does not come from God but from the world. It is not spiritual; it is from the devil. Where jealousy and selfishness are, there will be confusion and every kind of evil” (James 3:14‑16 NCV).
As our lives unfold, we will either enjoy the freedom of seeking God or suffer from the consequences of seeking ourselves. There is no in‑between. We will either long to please our Creator or demand to please ourselves. And if we choose to make “self” our primary concern, the farther down that road we travel, the more that choice will bind us and enslave us. We are never less free than when we declare our independence from God.
James tells us that “self-seeking” is a hellish thing. It engenders strife, and the “wisdom” that recommends this choice “does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic” (NKJV). Satan's murderous lie has always been that we can do whatever we want, regardless of anything God may have said, and no harmful consequences will come. In fact, he insinuates that seeking our own will is the only way we can be free (Genesis 3:1-6).
But even while our enemy is urging us in this direction, he is preparing the chains that will bind us. And once we’ve disregarded the wise, life‑protecting will of our God, we begin almost immediately to realize how little freedom there is in our self‑centered demands. The farther we go without turning back, the more our choices begin to feel like compulsions, and the less hope we have of ever knowing freedom again. If we maintain any honesty about ourselves at all, the time will come when we understand the desperate cry of Paul: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).
The desire to be freed from our self‑will should be one of our most powerful motivations. But if we hope to be free, we must be honest about where we are. Even if we’re seeking God right now, our seeking may be more about what we want than about what God wants. There are few of us who don’t need to repent of that.
“Sever me from myself that I may be grateful to you; May I perish to myself that I may be safe in you; May I die to myself that I may live in you; May I wither to myself that I may blossom in you; May I be emptied of myself that I may abound in you; May I be nothing to myself that I may be all to you” (Desiderius Erasmus).