Every human is born thinking about “self.”
We also have a desire for love so we are want to think about others, but it’s a battle. Our first thought is, “What’s in it for me?” The pull of self is strong.
At least once a day the pull of self will lead every human to make a selfish decision. We will choose self over everything else. Some of those desires go unnoticed. We are so consumed with self at times we don’t even know it. Ever not wanted to get out of bed even though you had something good to do? Like feed your kids. So you hit snooze over and over again until you’ve gone to the point of getting what you want, but not mistreating your kids.
Over eating. Indulging. Worrying. Doing something for attention that you wouldn’t normally do if no one was looking. The list goes on. The pull of self is strong.
Often the pull of self is so strong it leads to sin. Sin is choosing to break God’s standards. For the Christian this leads to conviction. Thank God!
I don’t ever want to be so comfortable with sin that it becomes my friend.
Conviction is a good thing. It leads us to forgiveness. God provides forgiveness for our sins. But then comes guilt.
Where does this guilt come from?
If God has already forgiven you, why are you still feeling guilty?
Imagine having a debt that you can’t pay off. The debt is overwhelming because as much as you try to chip away at it there just seems to be no end. And then, someone pays for your debt. Amazing!!!
Now, imagine still writing a check every month for that debt that has already been paid. Crazy, right?
Guilt is continuing to write a check every month for a debt that has already been paid.
So why do we have guilt?
Our pull to self is so strong it’s what we think about the most. When we win we think about it so much we turn into pride. When we lose we turn it into self loathing. Guilt is a part of our deep pull towards self. The enemy only has to whisper what you’ve done, and before you know it your brain is replaying the mistake over and over. Like a horror movie you don’t want to watch.
The amazing thing about following Jesus is that He leads you to think about things other than yourself.
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23
The pull of self is so strong we read the teaching of Jesus and immediately think about how hard that will be. I can’t deny myself! That’s the whole struggle. That’s why I’m in this mess!!!
You aren’t the focus of this verse.
Jesus says follow me.
Now, you have to do some denying because the pull of self is so strong. But if all you do is rely on yourself you’ll eventually give back into the selfish desires. The cycle continues. Work hard, struggle, sin, guilt…repeat. So we deny ourselves by admitting that self gratification isn’t all that gratifying over the long haul. We deny ourselves by realizing that our best interest is found when we lose ourselves in Jesus.
Then…we follow Jesus.
He gives us the strength to follow. To deny. To live for someone other than “self.”
Jesus is the one that gives the strength to continue to deny. He is the one that reminds you to think about others. He is the one that drops love into your life to get you thinking about someone other than yourself. He is the one that we follow.
When you follow Jesus you think about Jesus, and then other people, and then less about self. When you think less about self, guilt no longer takes up the valuable real-estate space in your brain.
Following Jesus means you don’t have time to be consumed with self. And when guilt comes, you tell it to where it belongs. Sin, guilt, selfishness belong in Hell. In the name of Jesus send them back to where they came from.
Follow Jesus and you’ll think less about yourself.