We have a saying in our home coined by our daughter, “Hey it’s my world and you’re living in it.” We laugh and assure the other person the world doesn’t revolve around them. We joke like that’s a silly notion, but so many times we act like we are the center of the universe.
It all started with Adam and Eve. We have them to thank. Their motivation for disobedience was to become like God. God is the center of the universe, so to be like God it only follows that we position ourselves in his place, and self-centeredness is born. Self-centeredness is pure pride and the root of all sin. When we become our own god, then we live under the assumption that everything and everyone is for our pleasure and our glory. I use the term glory because we are searching for validation of our worth from others. When we receive their praise that confirms we are in fact important; we have received their glory.
Another issue arises from self-centeredness. Unlike God, we can’t control our world. We can’t keep ourselves safe all the time. We have a God-given desire to be safe, be secure. We become insecure when circumstances or people threaten our well-being. We strive to keep that sense of well-being, no matter what. However, it is impossible in ourselves. None the less, we try desperately to control our world, both circumstances and others.
Any sin you can think of is a result of being self-centered. We get angry when others or circumstances don’t cooperate with our wants or threaten us. They either offend our sense of worth, sense of well-being or block our goals for pleasure. Anger comes in many forms, from frustration to bursts of anger to malice. Unresolved anger can lead to bitterness, resentment, hate, even murder. Sexual immorality is nothing but an inordinate amount of desire placed on physical pleasure. Greed is never being content with what you have. You believe more will make you happy, more will make you feel secure or more will make you feel important.
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in the knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Col 3:5-10 NIV)
We put to death our earthly nature by remembering we are no longer alive. Paul prefaced this command by reminding the believers at Colossae they were dead. “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Col 3:1-4 NIV)
We no longer live. Our lives are hidden with Christ. When we die, we put God back in his rightful place as the center of the universe, but more importantly, at the center of our lives. Paul tells the Colossians to set their mind on things above. Set your mind on where you live, in heaven with Christ. When you remember that you are united with Christ in heaven and you no longer live, you can put to death the sinful nature.
Once again the problem arises when we forget the truth of the gospel. Paul was reminding the Colossians of the truth because he saw they weren’t living in light of the gospel. They were living like they did before coming to Christ. Next time you get angry, ask yourself why. Have you put yourself back in the center of the universe? Are you angry because people or circumstances are blocking your goal for pleasure? Are you angry because your sense of well-being or worth is threatened? Then take a moment to remind yourself, you are no longer alive.
When we believe the truth of the gospel, we know that we are eternally secure. When life threatens our sense of well-being, we can rely on Christ to see us through. We also understand our worth is wrapped up in our new identity in Christ. We don’t have to look to others to validate our worth, we are unconditionally loved and highly valued by the Father. We realize that nothing is more satisfying than our relationship with Christ. We begin to enjoy life in a new way, seeing the world through his eyes.
Remember, my friends, this is a journey, a long journey for most of us. We must continue to strive to live a life that reveals Christ to others. We must learn to die every day to our self-centered ways. We must learn to count our old identity as garbage, and live up to who we are in Christ. Keep the truths of the gospel at the fore front of your mind!
On Tuesday we will continue to break down Galatians 2:20. Christ lives in me will be our focus. Until next time, may the peace of Christ reign supreme in your life today!