I woke this morning with a song on my heart, but I couldn’t remember the words, even the title. I thought and thought but only became more frustrated with the effort. Ultimately, the song faded and my thoughts turned to the burden of the previous night.
I had led a study on Christian responsibility as it pertains to our walk in this world. The foundation text for our study was Luke 9:23-25,
"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?"
This is a passage with which I am personally very familiar. It represents the ongoing battle of my life. I am a prideful man, and I don’t like “crosses.”
When I went to bed I had picked up where I had left off in my reading of The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer. The verse for the chapter before me was “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). In this chapter Tozer outlines the obstacles each Christian must overcome to attain the sincere meekness that secures God’s peace and blessing.
"First, there is the burden of pride. The labor of self-love is a heavy one indeed. Think of yourself, whether much of your sorrow has not arisen from someone speaking slightingly of you. As long as you set yourself up as a little god to which you must be loyal, there will be those who will delight to offer affront to your idol. How then can you hope to have inward peace? The heart’s fierce effort to protect itself from every slight, to shield its touchy honor from the bad opinion of friend and enemy, will never let the mind have rest. Continue this fight through the years and the burden will become intolerable. Yet the sons of earth are carrying this burden continually, challenging every word spoken against them, cringing under every criticism, smarting under each fancied slight, tossing sleepless if another is preferred before them."
I remembered saying to myself when I read this, “That’s me!”
Pride in any form is a hard taskmaster. It is never satisfied, always demanding more attention, more exaltation. Yet it gives nothing back! There is no profit from serving pride, only loss.
Pride is a deceitful enemy. It disguises itself as talent, wisdom, or personal worth, infiltrates the unwary mind, and takes the heart captive. In the end, it robs its captive of peace and all true and lasting blessing.
As I considered my personal struggle to die to myself and live wholeheartedly, selflessly for the Lord as a willing servant to those around me, the heaviness of my heart increased. “I’m 63 years old. Why is dying to myself so difficult? I have nothing in myself to offer others. My only worth is the Lord’s work in me. How can He possibly use me with so much of ‘me’ screaming for attention?”
As my thoughts multiplied, my discouragement grew, and I sunk lower and lower in spirit. Finally, my heart cried out “How will I ever escape this evil trap of self-centeredness, rise above my personal weakness to serve the Lord for His glory?” It was at this point that the song returned, and this time with the words:
From sinking sands, He lifted me. With tender hand, He lifted me.
From shades of night, to realms of light,
Oh praise His name, He lifted me.
The Lord anticipated my questions and answered them with His song! It is by His grace that I will stand. It is in His strength that I will serve. It is in His ability that I will trust. To God be the glory.
“Isn’t the love of Jesus something wonderful?”
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