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Are you free today to be nothing? Or are you holding on to some items in your life that make you feel like you are a spiritual something? Are you free to be a nothing? You can actually live in the anointing of the Spirit or choose to fake it. We pretend to be a spiritual something by maintaining the facade of a “spiritual reputation.”
If I took a poll right now across the internet and asked, “How many people today are selfish?” Few people would affirmatively agree. Why… we are all self-deceived to some degree.
Every person I’ve ever met thinks he/she has sacrificed more than most. Because of our sacrifices throughout life, we don’t view ourselves as a selfish person. Everyone believes they personally have had to endure more hardships than most of the general population.
The truth is you are selfish and the more you deny this fact, the more selfish you become. Unless you allow the Lord to get to the root of this issue, the self continues to flourish behind the veil of self-deception. In addition, believers have unwittingly dragged our selfish behaviors into God’s House. We know Christians are not supposed to be selfish, so we do not call ourselves selfish.
There must be a point-in-time when self is crucified! Has there never been a time in your life (after salvation) when God pulled you aside for a few days, weeks, and months to reveal your selfish nature? If not, then your ugly self is alive and well.
The first time (first of many) God spoke to me about my selfish nature I was about nineteen. It was only when the Lord took the scales off my eyes that I began to understand what a jerk I was. In the beginning, I thought God hated me because He kept bringing up my selfish ways. I have had to continually go through the process of God revealing my fleshly ways and then choosing to crucify my flesh. The same has been true of other ugly sins.
I have been in a lot of churches over the years. I have met 1000’s of Christians. It only takes a few minutes of talking to people to discover whether they have allowed God to crucify their flesh. You hear it in their words. You see it in their actions. You notice it in their reactions. A BELIEVER KNOWS WHEN ANOTHER BELIEVER HAS BEEN TO THE CROSS! Uncrucified flesh stinks to the high heavens. Crucified flesh is dead and the owner is the Lord.
Have you forfeited your rights?
- You do have the right to think of yourself first before anyone else.
- You do have the right to provide for your family and accomplish certain things.
- You do have the right to seek out pleasure and fulfillment.
- You do have the right to order your life as you please.
- You do have the right to speak, hear, and involve yourself as you please.
Can you do all those things, be crucified, AND still accomplish what God has planned for you? When you finally realize YOU CAN”T, you have a responsibility to voluntarily give up your rights, as Jesus did, and embrace the plan of God. Christianity is not about self, but about others.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: Philippians 2:5-7
I picture Jesus in heaven “disrobing” Himself of all His glory, authority, rights, and privileges and saying to His father, “I’ll go.” God in turn says, “Son, in order to accomplish all I have planned you to have to lay aside all privileges and rights.” Jesus says, “Daddy, I love You and I love them more than I love Myself. I will be a servant to the point of death.”
This is why the Holy Spirit is grieved and quenched at our pettiness, selfishness, need for reputations, and need for glorification. Anytime we actively seek or even entertain in our minds selfish acts, we grieve the Spirit of the Living God out of our midst. I have given out more plaques, certificates, and pats on the back than you can imagine. Not once did anyone ever say, “Don’t give me this honor. I did it only for the glory of the Lord. My reward is in heaven.” The more we honor people, the more starved they become for fleshly attention.
If you have stuck with me so far, you are a candidate to completely crucify your flesh. Let me give you the biblical definition of being “emptied of self.”
“As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near.” II Timothy 4:6
Paul is referring to the Old Testament “drink-offering” here, which was an offering in which wine was poured out onto the ground as an offering to God. This “poured out wine” may seem like a waste, especially to people like us, who are so careful not to waste. But it’s not a waste at all, because it’s an offering to God. Could there be a more noble use for the wine than to be poured out as an offering to God. Even if it was used to quench a thirst, clean a wound, kill bacteria, or any of the other use, it could not have been as glorious than when poured out to the Lord. You must believe this!
And so it is with our lives. There are so many things that we can accomplish with our lives. There are so many levels of “success” we can try to attain. It’s interesting to me that the Greek word for “poured out” used here is “spendo” which is the root of our English word “spent.”
- What if we became a doctor and found a cure for cancer.
- What if we became an engineer and solved some great problem.
- What if we became a real estate broker and owned a hundred properties.
Could that life be as well spent as a life that was lived to glorify God? It may appear to the flesh that the person poured out to God never really accomplished anything. It may seem like a terrible waste.
The point is not that those things are wrong, but that the measure of a life well spent is not what great things you’ve accomplished or how much success you’ve had. What’s important is whether or not your life was spent for yourself or for God and his purposes. Did you pour yourself into your ambitions, or did you use the things like your career and your success to pour yourself into God’s Kingdom?
The truth is most people want both. They want the flesh to thrive and they want to “satisfy” the Lord at the same time. We give our tithes and offerings to God, but we ultimately neglect to spend it on Him. We think we are being thrifty, but in reality we are being stingy. This is why people would rather “pad pews” than send missionaries. Our spending habits divulge our heart’s motive.
There was a knock at the back door of a certain parsonage. The pastor answered the door. A church member was there with a cake in her hand. She said, “Here is half a cake. We have eaten all we wanted and we thought you and your family would want the rest.” He graciously received the half-eaten cake. He shouldn’t have, but he did. In other words, the lady was communicating, “We did not think you worthy enough to bake a whole cake and give it to you. Our leftovers are good enough for you but not our best.” Listen, we do the same thing to God. We do not give God our sacrifices of praise. No, we give God leftovers from our gluttony. When you only give to God because it is a “left over” or “used up”, you haven’t really given anything to Him. You have only proven how truly selfish you are. When we allow the Holy Spirit to crucify our flesh, God and the Kingdom come first. God doesn’t want your leftovers. He wants your first-overs. Are you hearing me?
Ralph Neighbor, the guy wrote the Survival Kit and other materials was speaking in chapel where I went to college. He shared the most significant spiritual event of his college life. Like most teenagers, he spent his first years in college messing around with no purpose or direction. He goofed off, made friends, and majored in having a good time. Even though he attended a Christian College, his knew his devotion to Christ was not as deep as it should have been. He admitted so. He spent the first 10-15 minutes confessing how he was the quintessential “good ole boy.” As his class graduated, they had a party afterward to sign annuals and say good-bye. One of his friends was a guy named Jim Elliott. He was leaving for Ecuador with four other friends immediately following graduation. They traded annuals and Ralph and Jim signed each other’s annual. Just a few months later he received the news that all five of his college friends had died on the mission field. What a waste, he first thought. All of that time training only to die on the first few days in the field. Immediately, Ralph Neighbor thought about his annual. He never read what Jim wrote. He opened it to learn Jim Elliot had written these words. “Only one life, twill soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Ralph Neighbor was shocked. He decided right then to fully dedicate himself for God’s service. It was a life changing moment. He knew while he was selfishly living for himself in college, there were other young people giving their all for Christ. From the Lord’s perspective… We are all in or we are all out! There are no compromises when it comes to the flesh. By the way, this one event in the early 1950’s caused a mass flood of men and women into missionary work. They saw how SELFLESSLY these young people had dedicated themselves to Christ and wanted to do the same.
The truth is some die to themselves early in life, some die late… just don’t be one of those believers who never allow the flesh to be crucified at all! Don’t let the grave be the date when you finally crucify your flesh. It simply doesn’t work this way. Let the date you crawled upon the cross of Christ and died be today!