Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

The self-important self

Nelson Gage Canadian Dictionary

The dictionary pictured above lists 80 hyphenated words beginning with self; the Canadian Oxford Dictionary lists 200. What a bunch of self-centred, self-satisfied, self-important bores we have become!

We think that good self-esteem is essential for happiness. We study self-help books to help us attain self-fulfillment, self-actualization and self-realization. There is a little problem though — everyone else is  engaged in the same quest for self-empowerment and has little time or interest for admiring our enhanced self-image.

Jesus invites us to step off this merry-go-round and follow Him to find true happiness. He says the first step in following Him is self-denial. This should not be confused with self-abasement. Jesus is simply inviting us to turn our attention from self to Him and to allow Him to lead us.

Some Christians talk about self-discipline, self-control and self-restraint. These may produce results that somewhat resemble self-denial, but they hold a snare for the unwary. What those words really imply is control of self by self — and self gets the credit! That is self-deception. We cannot turn to God without turning away from self.

Jeremiah was moved to write: “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23). God also revealed to Jeremiah: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11). God’s plans are always going to be better than ours. Why not abandon all those efforts for self-improvement and allow Him to lead us?

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