Saturday, September 14, 2013

Emptying Of Self

What does it mean to be empty of oneself? There are books and books about overcoming greed, pride, ego, and the like.
Getting over the "evil" of "self," is a simple act. It's called love.

When the social stereotypes of Christians come to mind, the world thinks of either Ned Flanders, or else a hypocrite that forces their beliefs on others, condemning sinners and portraying themselves as self-righteous.

After some recent experiences, i've realized why the world thinks we're all self-righteous bigots. Because many are, and because those are the ones they have contact with; the ones telling them, personally, "You're going to Hell!" The one bad apple spoils the bunch.
Sin does condemn. There's no denying that. But the thing we are to do, instead of beating them with religious rhetoric, is to break the religion of it and fall into the personal love that Jesus displayed (and embodied). Sin condemns, Christ does not. Christ builds, sin destroys, simple as that. To be like Christ, we must encourage, welcome, and above all, love sinners.

We should not encourage anyone to sin--grace is grace, and just because God makes a greater display of grace with a worse sinner, we should not all strive to be the worst sinner and, therefore, the greatest display of grace. We should strive to be the older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son, when God says "Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours." We should strive to be the one that needs no grace, but has it nonetheless. We should encourage by being examples of a life with a purpose, hope, and love. We should encourage by being Christ-like, and it wasn't the lowly that He rebuked in the Gospels; religious people and demons. All others, adulterers, thieves, tax collectors, and anyone that would call on Him, He received at the price of their "self."

If we're to welcome someone, we have to make the first move. We have to be accommodating. We have to meet people where they are and work with them in their situations. To the Romans, we must become Romans. To the sinner, we must become a person with a sinful past. We must acknowledge the need they have for a Savior by first acknowledging to them that we need a Savior ourselves, and that we were sinful as well, but have reconciliation through Christ, that very Savior we need.

And what good is anything without love?
If we have religious or selfish motivation for spreading the Gospel, we have gained nothing because we failed to do it out of love. If we prophesy, even, and not out of love, its benefit is null.
We are unable to do anything worthwhile for ourselves if we do it for ourselves. Only when we bless others out of love can it be counted as a blessing to us, because we are otherwise a resounding gong or clanging cymbal. To love is to put others first--to humble yourself. And when you humble yourself, you will be exalted.
The heart is a tricky piece of equipment; difficult to convince, and even moreso to understand the motives of. But one way to overcome this issue is by seeking Christ first. Seek above all things the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. When He becomes your motivation, you don't have to understand your heart because it will not be the same thing as it was before. God will put a new heart in you, and put His Spirit within you. Only that can alter the motivation of the heart to a loving motivation.
When we abandon any hope of our own righteousness and cast it away like dirty garments, searching instead for God's righteousness; only then can we become righteous. Not because of our own righteousness, but because of Christ's. When we set ourselves as the tax collector in the parable in Luke 18, beating our chests, knowing ourselves to be unworthy to even look up to Heaven, crying out "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" we are acknowledging that we are unworthy and that our only hope rests in mercy, which is, by definition, undeserved.

When we become nothing, we gain everything. That may not be material things that perish and rot away. I'm talking of eternal things, things that are permanent and will outlast the sun itself.
A Christian is not self-righteous. A Christian is a sinner, forgiven by grace, righteous not in his/her own eyes, humble, and striving to embody love as Christ did.

That's what it means to be empty of oneself.

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