I opened my email today to find the following “thought” sent to me by a friend from Honduras. As I happened to be searching for one to send out, I thought I would simply pass along the one she sent to me. (She must have known I have a busy week)! It is by Chuck Swindoll, and is taken from his book, “Great Days with the Great Lives.” This selection, entitled “It’s NOT About You!” is based on 2 Corinthians 12:2-10. I pass it along because it addresses an error that is rampant in the modern church – the idea that God’s “job” (in relation to us) is to build up our self-esteem and make us comfortable, happy, healthy and wealthy.
Swindoll’s thought, though contradicting that, is a much more biblically defensible position. It is far less popular, yet it is true. It’s not what many want to hear, but it is far more in line with God’s overall aim for us – that we be Christ-like, godly, and God-dependent people in whom the image of God (deformed by humanities fall into sin) is being restored. And I should add that in carrying out that endeavor, God will use all the means at his disposal to bring that about – even if it wounds our self-esteem, makes us uncomfortable, sends us into times where we are decidedly unhappy, lack good health, and lose our wealth. With that said, enjoy!
It's Not About You!
"I need to underscore a foundational fact: God's goal is not to make sure you're happy. No matter how hard it is for you to believe this, it's time to do so. Life is not about your being comfortable and happy and successful and pain free. It's about becoming the man or woman God has called you to be. Unfortunately, we will rarely hear that message proclaimed today. All the more reason for me to say it again: Life is not about you! It's about God.
How can I say that with assurance? Because of Paul's response: "Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (vv. 9–10). That's it! He got it too. And he went with it for the rest of his days.
When you and I boast of our strengths, we get the credit, and we keep going under our own head of steam. But when we boast in what He is doing in the midst of our brokenness, inability, and inadequacy, Christ comes to the front. His strength comes to our rescue. He is honored.
Don't miss that point. The very things we dread and run from in our lives are precisely what brought contentment to Paul. Look at the list:
I am content when I lose.
I am content when I am weak.
I am content with insults.
I am content when I'm slandered.
I am content in distresses.
I am content with persecutions.
I am content with difficulties and pressures that are so tight I can hardly turn around.
Why? "Because when I am weak then I'm strong." Knowing that brought the apostle, ablaze with the flaming oracles of heaven, to his knees. What a way to live your life—content in everything—knowing that divine strength comes when human weakness is evident.
That's what gave the man of grace true grit. It will do the same for us.”
If you have not read (better yet, if you have not studied) the book of II Corinthians, I would encourage you to do so. It's a fascinating book and challenges a lot of the presuppositions we simply adopt into our thinking without giving them much thought at all. In fact, like Jesus, Paul takes the honored values of the world, and turns them upside down. The Gospel always does that. And the more one seeks to know and apply the Gospel to their life, the more they will see this is true.
PS - I just finished reading a wonderful short book (45 pages) by Tim Keller entitled, "The Freedom of Self-forgetfulness - The Path to True Christian Joy." I highly recommend it! It is packed with some powerful insights (which again go against the flow of the "me" gospel).
Living in the Grace of Jesus,