“With privilege comes responsibility!” It was a phrase repeated often as our children grew into young adulthood and left the family nest. They are gone, tending to their own families, but the truism remains in our home (with a slight twist) . . . “With FREEDOM comes responsibility!”
Why the change? Because as the years have passed, God has given me a heightened awareness and appreciation for the spiritual freedom won for us by Christ. Such freedom is not a right . . . it is an amazing Gift:“It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free! Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
Passing on that Gift has become an important part of what I do in the Counseling Room, especially when the subject of self-esteem comes up:
“Your self-esteem is not my concern–there will always be someone or something ready to tear it down. My goal as your Counselor is to strengthen your esteem for God (your God-confidence) and to achieve His goal for you: a mature faith.” (James 1:2-4)
Living in a culture where the self-esteem philosophy is so prevalent, even the church has become weakened by its influence. All too often, we blame low self-esteem that resulted from childhood deficiencies, a bad marriage or the influence of others rather than taking responsibility for our sin.
That is why I was delighted last week to discover a small jewel of a booklet titled, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness: THE PATH TO TRUE CHRISTIAN JOY* by Dr. Timothy Keller. I appreciated the clear and concise way Dr. Keller addresses the problem of the self-esteem philosophy and lays out the biblical framework for self-forgetfulness.
What I found most encouraging from a Counseling standpoint, is how Dr. Keller affirms our Christian responsibility to grow a mature faith by trusting God more and relying less on ourselves and others when it comes to the measurement of our self-worth.
In a world where low self-esteem is deemed the root of all evil, where elevated self-esteem is touted as the answer . . . what has become of JOY? In a world where we have turned ever-inwardly and darkness appears to be winning, it would seem hopeless. You might wonder what self-forgetfulness would even look like? Dr. Keller answers our doubts as he introduces gospel-humility as the prescription for what truly ails us. Gospel-humility is:“Not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.”
He writes further,
True gospel-humility means an ego that is not puffed up but filled up . . . The truly gospel-humble person is a self-forgetful person whose ego is just like his or her toes. It just works. It does not draw attention to itself. The toes just work; the ego just works. Neither draws attention to itself.
In short, self-forgetfulness . . . gospel-humility . . . embraces the Gift of our spiritual freedom to no longer worry ourselves about ourselves. Gospel-humility loves with abandon; it is no longer run by hurt feelings or the fear of “not making the grade” of someone else’s expectations. Got low self-esteem? Praise Him and shoot for the moon as you live your lives in gratitude for such an amazing freedom!
Self-forgetfulness . . . gospel-humility? Trust me when I say . . . it is our only hope!
All to His Glory!
*Timothy Keller, The Freedom Of Self-Forgetfulness–The Path to Christian Joy, printed in the UK by a division of 10ofthose.com, 2013. (To get a copy PRESS HERE)