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IT IS ABOUT ME!

 From time to time in my teachings I have used the expression, “It’s not about you.”  When it comes to the life of a Christian, we know how true that it.  A substantial portion of what we do as Christians involves others.  We have to think about others and we need to serve others.   We need to care about the souls of others.  We need to weigh our actions in light of how they affect others.  These things are clearly borne out in scripture (Phil. 2:3-4, 1 Pet. 5:5, Jas. 2:8, Matt. 5:13-16, etc.). 

BUT, there is another side to consider.  There is very much a sense in which we need to think about WHY we do what we do.  We need to consider that at the foundation of everything we do, even for others, it is ultimately about YOU!  Let us notice some ways that this is true.

I must think about myself when it comes to obeying the gospel.  In scriptures, there is not one example of salvation by proxy – that is anyone obeying the gospel for someone else (other than the fact that Christ died for us – Rom. 5:8).  No one can obey the gospel for me and I cannot obey the gospel for anyone else.  Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16)   On the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2, when Peter finished preaching there were many who were cut to the heart.  They asked, “What shall we do?”  Peter responded, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38 - emphasis mine)  Galatians 3:27 says, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  Look throughout the New Testament and see.  There is NEVER an example of someone becoming a Christian on behalf of someone else.  When it comes to securing your salvation, it is ALL about you.

I must think about myself when it comes to the way I live my life.  We live in a world that is constantly competing for our attention.  If we are not careful, we will find ourselves being pulled in many different directions.  Often we find ourselves pressured to conform or to give in to what others want.  At times this is ok to do, but as a Christian I must realize that whatever I do, it must be pleasing to God REGARDLESS of what others think or how it affects them.  Continually in scriptures we are told to NOT conform to the ways of the world.  Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 says, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness? ... Therefore, ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.’”  James warned us, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Whoever therefore wants to make himself a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (4:4)  These passages and many others demonstrate that we need to be more concerned about what God thinks of us than those of this life. 

This means that as a Christian I need to do what I know is RIGHT at all times, regardless of the consequences.  Throughout the New Testament we read of Christians being persecuted because they refused to conform.  Peter and John were arrested and threatened to quit preaching Christ (Acts 2:17-18).  Their response was, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (19-20)  In essence, they were saying, “We don’t care what you order us to do.  We are going to do what is RIGHT before God.” And they did and paid the consequences (Acts 5).  Isn’t it interesting that the reason they suffered is because they were thinking about themselves more than others?

Continuing with this thought, the scriptures are filled with things we are commanded to do and other things we are forbidden from doing.  The Christian, seeking to please God will make these things his priority.  That is why he doesn’t go to certain places and participate in certain activities.  In fact, when he becomes a Christian he CHANGES from what he used to be (1 cor. 6:9-11, 1 Peter 4:1-3, Titus 3:3, Col. 3:5-7, Eph. 2:1-3, etc.).  This change is so dramatic that old friends know you are different.  Peter said, “For we have spent enough of our past lifetime* in doing the will of the Gentiles — when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.” (1 Peter 4:3-4)

Obviously we are not talking about selfish living in this.  We cannot live self centered lives and expect to please God (Jas. 2:15-16, Phil. 2:4, 1 Cor. 10:24, Prov. 28:27, etc.).   In reality, while it IS about you living like you want to live, what you understand is that as a Christian, your life is about serving God.  And that is how you WANT TO LIVE (i.e. If your only loyalty to God is compulsion, you will be miserable).  Romans 6:16-18 notes that when we obey the gospel, we are freed from the slavery of sin, BUT at the same time we just switch masters.  Now we are slaves of righteousness.  Everything we do is to strive to be pleasing to Him (2 Tim. 2:4, 2 Cor. 5:9, Col. 1:10, etc.).

I must think about myself when it comes to making sure I am ready to go to heaven when this life is over. In the above paragraph it was noted that as we live for ourselves regardless of what others think, we are really living for God.  One might say, “Then you are NOT living for yourself.”  That is true in one sense, BUT consider WHY you live for God.  It is because He has promised you a home in heaven when this life is over.  It is your REWARD.   And the truth is, if it were NOT for the hope of heaven then why live? 

Jesus told His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)   Peter said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)  Revelation 14:13 says, “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me ,’Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’  ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’”  The Hebrew writer said, “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.” (13:14) 

                Friends, I once heard a preacher say, “If you miss heaven, you miss all there is.”  That statement is so true.  And it is the REASON we live for God AND for others.  We KNOW that by serving others we are preparing an eternal home for ourselves in heaven after this life.  And that must be the most important thing to YOU.  Even Paul realized this.  After everything he did good and right, in humility he still said, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Cor 9:27)

So understand that, with the utmost of humility, as you live this life, it IS ABOUT ME. Think about it!

 Therefore, as my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”  Philippians 2:12  TATJR