It’s (not) all about me

Rick Warren’s mega-bestselling book, The Purpose Driven Life, begins with these simple words: “It’s not about you.”

To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember the rest of the book.  But I remember those four words.  And I need that reminder on a daily basis.

As discussed in the previous post, when Paul says that love isn’t jealous or envious (1 Cor 13:4), the background idea is that desire can be directed in loving and unloving ways.  The unloving way, of course, makes it all about me, about compensating for and correcting anything in my life that feels like a deficit.  Our self-centered desires take many forms, from angling for power and prestige to fishing for compliments.

But let me be clear.  I am not saying that people can be divided up into two categories, the good and the evil, the loving and the unloving.  I believe that our self-centeredness is rooted in sin.  But I also believe that a robustly biblical understanding of sin includes all the forms of brokenness we suffer because of imperfect relationships.

Sometimes, we fail to love well because when we were helpless and dependent on others, they did not love us well.  We become wary and self-protective, often with particular areas of sensitivity in which we’re too easily rubbed the wrong way.

None of that is meant as an excuse.  It is, however, the reality in which we live this side of the new heaven and new earth for which we wait.  God has called us to love, not to earn his favor, but to demonstrate that his Spirit is in fact loose in the world, here and now, embodied in a people who know that there is another Way.

Love isn’t envious or jealous.  Put differently: it’s not about me and it’s not about you.

Perhaps you know that unloving impulse.  As a public speaker, for example, I’ve envied the eloquence of others: their ability to turn a phrase, their easy humor, everything from their timing and delivery to the content of the message.  And sometimes, skulking alongside that genuine admiration is the thought: Hey, look at the attention s/he’s getting from the audience.  I want some of that.  Or worse: Hey, I deserve some of that, because I could do better.

In such moments, the Holy Spirit often whispers, “It’s not about you.”

And sometimes, thanks be to God, I even listen.

One thought on “It’s (not) all about me

  1. Reblogged this on thinklikegodthinks and commented:
    It is interesting reading on one hand and sadness on the other hand that discovery of purpose has become difficult and mysterious. I also struggled for some time …15 years from the POS …point of salvation.
    However, these are my conclusions:
    • There are 4 vital manifestations of the Spirit that happened at POS, without these there was no rebirth. (a) The instantaneous works of the Holy Spirit in bringing us into Christ, (b) Developing the ability to hear God, (b) Discovery of purpose as a matter of necessity for the new life (c) Recognition of the love of God that was shed abroad the heart of the believer to replace our carnal ability to love (d) Laying the foundation for a life in the spirit.

    • While I hope to discuss these points, I will only be brief on the issue of purpose.

    Jeremiah 1:4 sums it up.
    Purpose is a spiritual statement
    Purpose is fixed throughout the life of the believer on earth
    Purpose, spiritually carried out, determines the believer’s eternal rewards and the extent of the believer’s social impact.
    Purpose is different from Vision…which is a future expectation as described by Habbakuk in Hab 2:2-4. Vision is a variable.
    Purpose is not transferable from parent to children as covenant is.
    Purpose as a spiritual statement must be hashed out in dialogue with God within the 1st year of salvation because this was the very reason for creation and salvation. It is now to drive the rest of the believer’s life, bible study, plans, decisions and choices.
    Take Luke 5:1-4 Peter, James, Andrew and John discovered purpose…the Lord told them… You are not created to be fishermen but to be fishers of men. Notice the change from a life driven by the value of the world system to one driven by eternal life values.
    The Purpose Statement for these guys…”God has called us to bring Jews into the Kingdom” They left the boats, the fish and the nets.

    Paul ….Purpose Statement….Acts 9:15… God has called me to bring the Gentiles into the Kingdom.
    Jesus ….John 1:29 … Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.
    Virgin Mary…The womb that bears the Saviour of the world…Luke 1:31

    May I say that purpose is not a bible statement but rhema obtained from God, or from other sources that are used by God such as Angels, Spiritual Mentors (Elijah/Elisha). Spiritual Parents (Abraham), recognised Prophets and so on.
    But bible verses can support purpose statement obtained by revelation.
    This brings us to the next point that by reason of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, at rebirth, the young Christian should be taught how to hear God speak. It should not be guesswork. A young baby by the age of 2years hears the parents, no matter how difficult the language. The Holy Spirit as our Parent is instrumental in teaching us how to hear God speak and by this discover purpose in dialogue with God or as outlined above.

    Once purpose is discovered, the next step is to commence a migration programme from the life driven by the world to one driven by eternal life. Again when you explore the lives of the believers itemised above this was what happened. The Apostles probably migrated within 3-6 months, Paul within a week, Abraham immediately, Mary immediately and so on.
    His migration Prog should not be more than 5 years for any serious Christian.

    Unfortunately, we are taught to integrate our carnal life into a religious life…just bring all the baggage into the kingdom..which kingdom? This is why we are making a mess of our Christian life.

    We are members of Christ as long as we are under the full control of the Holy Spirit. John 3:5. Whenever we behave carnally, we revert to the mindset and lifestyle of an unbeliever. Rom 8:5-7 1 Cor 2:14

    So we live most of the time outside of the purpose of God.

    In conclusion,
    1. Do you have a purpose statement
    2. Do you hear God speak and engage Him in dialogue
    3. Have you migrated into the Kingdom and how?
    4. Are you a man/woman of the spirit….full of the Holy Ghost, full of Faith and full of integrity….Acts 6:3-5, Acts 11:22-24
    It takes a man/woman of the spirit to be full under the control of the Holy Spirit Eph 5:18 ….these are the purpose driven believers!

    Discussion continues …..

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