SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS: THE BITTER FRUIT OF THE LAW

When is the last time you walked into a room full of people and all you thought about was them? How can I be a blessing to them, how can I make their day, how can I bring encouragement and joy to their heart? How deep can a man go into selflessness where he is no longer concerned about himself, thinking of himself—thinking of ways to get ahead, to put himself in the best possible light in all conversations and appearances, to look good, to impress others and to project an image of himself that belies who he really is? Did Jesus ever live a day with that sort of mindset?

Why do men do this? Could this selfishness and self-focus be the larger part of what Jesus came to free us from?

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).

Is not self-consciousness the largest part of the bitter fruit of what the law produces? And is not cultivating a God-consciousness and beholding the glory of the Lord, as in a mirror, with your heart, the solution toward this sort of radical transformation Jesus came to bring (2 Cor. 3:16-18)? Is this not the bigger part of what it means to grow up into Him and mature? Is not coming to Him and learning of Him what produces selflessness in our lives and a blessed rest where we quit striving to be someone, to achieve something, to be great as the world counts greatness?

TRUE DISCIPLES OF JESUS ARE KNOWN BY LOVE

Many churches are known for many different things. Some are known for prophecy or their charismatic gifts, some for benevolence, some for their good singing or great preaching, etc. but how many are known for their love, not in word but in deed (1 Jn. 3:18)?

Here’s where much of the body of Christ is at today.

“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a gluttonous man, a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is justified by her children” (Matt. 11:18-19).

Our words and actions often fail to justify that we are the children of God. We argue, we fuss and we constantly engage in doctrinal disputes. Many seem to be consistently looking to pick a fight, to grumble and complain about things, and to never be satisfied unless their own opinions and points of view are heard. Our strife and division are our most frequent and consistent witness to the world. But listen to what Jesus said:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

How did Jesus love us? He denied Himself totally and completely to reconcile us to God. He brought to us the highest life by a firm committal to His death on the cross. His deepest motivation was to go as low as He could go to lift us up as high as we could go—the lowest death producing the highest life. He endured this death because we were His joy.

“Let us look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).

Should not this be our aim—to be like Him? To be conformed to His image? To love as He loved? How else will the world know that we are indeed Jesus’ disciples?

CAN’T LOVE UNLESS WE KNOW WE’RE LOVED

But it is the revelation that we are loved by Him that will ultimately produce the beginning of this transformation in our lives. We must constantly be receiving His love in order to release His love. The greatest glory we can experience on the earth is to know how loved we are by God. When we live loved, we will manifest His love to others.

When you truly commune with God you lose what you don’t need, and gain what you need in His presence. You lose those burdensome, weary, burned out physical and emotional feelings that come from constant striving, and you gain real rest in your soul that comes from His grace and knowing His love. This Scripture blesses me immensely and gives me a glimpse into real freedom:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matt. 11:28, MSG).

Some Christians pray and worship regularly, read the Bible faithfully, attend church consistently and constantly show God how much they love Him, but still have no peace and mental freedom. What’s the problem?

The revelatory truth of how much they are loved by God has not yet gripped them. They see themselves through their own weaknesses and shortcomings instead of through the eyes of the love of Christ. Their pursuit of God is from a position of somehow trying to earn His love instead of from position of already being loved.

This is one of the greatest prayers that we can pray for ourselves and for one another:

“That He would give you, according to the riches of His glory, power to be strengthened by His Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:16-19).

The fullness of God is to know His love which is beyond our intellectual capacity and knowledge. To be filled with the revelation of God’s love is to be filled with all His fulness. There is nothing greater. As believers, we’ve got to move past identifying ourselves with anyone or anything—whether they be our failures, our greatest achievements/accomplishments, man’s acceptance and approval, what we do or don’t do, our jobs/careers, churches, ministries, finances and so on. and move into a full-fledged identity with His love.

The heart that knows he is loved by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ ceases to look elsewhere for love, peace and satisfaction. His delight is in the Lord. He has found his dwelling place and his rest in Him. When you receive a revelation of His deep love for you, it will put such a delight and contentment in your soul. It is then that you will truly live free and full.

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Thank you, and may God’s richest and best be yours.

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