"It's All About Me" (August 2006)
The motto of the world is... “It’s all about me.” It’s understandable that the world would have this mentality, after all, those who are in the world are selfish, self-centered, and self-serving. (By the “world” I mean those who have not come to Christ but are still living after the dictates of their own flesh and desires.) So one might expect that of them. But you would not expect it to be the “motto” of the Church (those who have acknowledged Jesus Christ as their Savior and are living a life of self-denial and self-sacrifice). Sadly, though, this belief is in the church. Somewhere along the way- either through the teachings of “modern day” preachers or through a misinterpretation of what they have said- we have fallen into the snare of believing that... “It’s all about me”.
Most of the preaching we hear today tells us how blessed we are, how God wants you to prosper, how God wants you to have the biggest and the best, how God wants to give you all the good things in life you could want for, and how God has a wonderful plan for your life. While there is some truth to this: He does want you to prosper- “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” (3 John 1:2), and He does want to bless you- “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32), He wants to give you good gifts- “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17). “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Matthew 7:11, and He does have a wonderful plan for your life- “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV), we aren’t hearing the rest of the story- the whole truth. There is no question that the Lord has given us wonderful promises of blessings, and He has established a covenant with us to give us eternal life and abundant life while we are here on earth; that’s not where the problem in the teaching lies. The problem is in the “why”. We have a misconception as to “why” the Lord wants to bless us, why He wants to prosper us, why He wants to give us good things, and why He wants to use us in the work of His kingdom.
We don’t always hear what the true purpose is behind all the Lord’s blessings and favor. We believe that the reason He blesses us is because it’s “all about me”. We think that His whole purpose is to make me great, to make me happy, to give me favor, to do mighty things through me, to give me popularity and a well-known name throughout the Christian community, or so that I could drive the biggest and best automobile, or live in the nicest home. The purpose behind His blessings in our lives, His favor, His plans, His calling is not altogether about us. If you think that it is, then you will never be able to live the life Jesus called His followers to live. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
This idea that “it’s all about me” is a fairly new doctrine. While we would all like to think that it was “all about me”, the Bible doesn’t teach that. Rather, it teaches the opposite. The gospel we are hearing focuses more on the recipient of the blessings instead of on the “Giver” of the blessings and His true purpose behind giving them.
The Bible doesn’t teach that “it’s all about me”. It teaches a de-emphasis of self. It teaches us to deny ourselves (Matthew 16:24); not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought (Romans 12:3). It teaches that we must “decrease” (John 3:30); and that we must mortify (put to death) the flesh (Romans 3:13; Colossians 3:5).
What the Bible teaches- it’s main theme- is, “It’s all about Jesus”. It puts the emphasis on Him. That brings me to the “why”; the “why” of God’s blessings and goodness upon us. It’s all because of Jesus. It’s all about bringing Him glory and seeing Him highly exalted. Everything that the Lord does in your life and in mine is ultimately to bring Him glory. Every healing, every blessing, every time He uses you to preach, teach, minister, or witness to someone, every dollar He gives you, every prayer He answers, your fulfilling your destiny-- it’s all about Him... Him receiving glory. Even every soul that comes into the kingdom is about His glory. He receives glory when one soul repents because their salvation came as a result of the sacrifice He made at the cross through His shed blood.
Our role is not to be glorified, but to bring glory to the Lord. He is glorified through the blessings that come our way if we won’t think that “it’s about me”, but about Him. When God blessed Abraham, it wasn’t about Abraham. God blessed him in order that he could be a blessing to others. “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me." (Genesis 12:2; 22:18b) As he blessed others God received the glory for it. When the Lord sends His blessings our way, sure we get to enjoy them, but that’s not the sole purpose “why” He sent them. He sent them so that we could glorify Him through them- by witnessing and testifying to His goodness in sending them our way and through blessing other people as we have been blessed. “Thus you will be enriched in all things and in every way, so that you can be generous, and [your generosity as it is] administered by us will bring forth thanksgiving to God. Because at [your] standing of the test of this ministry, they will glorify God for your loyalty and obedience to the Gospel of Christ which you confess, as well as for your generous-hearted liberality to them and to all [the other needy ones].” (2 Corinthians 9:11,13- Amplified Bible)
Why are we called to different areas of ministry? Why are we given certain gifts and talents? Why do we go through trials, hard aches, pains, tribulation, and suffering? Why were we born where we were born and at the time in history we were born? Why do I need to change? While there are many reasons behind the answers to these questions, the “bottom line” is-- because it’s “all about Him”-- it’s all about Him receiving glory!
I want us to look at some other Bible characters. As we do it will give us a better understanding about the “why”. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 5:4)
Joseph went through a time of great testing and trials. He was hated by his own brothers; they sold him into slavery; while serving as a slave his master’s wife lied on him and he wound up in prison. But the story doesn’t end there; it has a glorious ending. We see Joseph living in a king’s palace, a man of power and authority, the leader of Egypt next to Pharaoh. Why was he elevated to such a place of power, wealth, fame, and authority? Was it just because the Lord wanted to bless him? Was it to make Joseph great? Was it so that he could be prosperous and have all his desires met? Although most of the teaching we hear today would focus on God’s desire to prosper Joseph, it wasn’t about Joseph. “And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” (Genesis 45:4-7) It wasn’t about Joseph, it was about saving God’s people. It was about the Lord’s faithfulness to fulfill His promise to Abraham. God raised up Joseph as a “savior” in a time of great draught in order to preserve life. Sure, Joseph got to enjoy the benefits of living in the palace, having servants and attendants to wait on him, having authority, but that was not the purpose behind him receiving all these blessings and honor; it was about God being glorified through the saving of the nations. Joseph was just a vessel that the Lord chose to save them through.
Esther is another one. We all know the story of the orphan girl who became the queen of Persia. “Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king's chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her. So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.“ (Esther 2:15-17) Esther won the “beauty pageant” and was made queen. If that story had happen in modern day Christianity the reason behind her winning the contest would have been taught differently. The the modern day teachers would have said that Esther won because God gave her the desire of her heart. She had always wanted to win a beauty pageant and live in a palace so God blessed her by making it happen. This is where we miss it. It wasn’t about giving Esther the desire of her heart. It wasn’t about making her great. It wasn't about God showing her off before those who had made fun of her when she was growing up because she was an orphan, etc. None of that had anything to do with the fact that she was chosen by the king to be his queen. Like Joseph, she got to enjoy the benefits that came along with the position, but the position was not about her. “Then were the king's scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king's lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring. And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey. The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day.” (Esther 3:12-14) Haman had deceived the king into letting him write a law that all the Jews be killed, so the decree went out to do so. When Mordecai heard this, he went into morning, and sent word to Esther about the situation. In their correspondence we get those memorable lines-- “Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (verses 13,14) This passage clearly lets us know that Esther’s becoming queen was not about her- it wasn’t about God fulfilling a life long dream she had- it was so that His people would be saved. He placed her in the king’s palace, gave her favor with the king, made her a woman of influence, and gave her a place of position for the purpose of saving the nation. That was “why” she became queen- it was not “all about her”.
Look at the three Hebrew children. What was the “why” behind the fiery trial they went through? “He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.” (Daniel 3:25, 27-29) What they went through wasn’t because they had done anything wrong, on the contrary, they did the right thing- they didn’t bow before any other gods. The reason “why” behind their time of testing was not brought on by any sin in their life but through it the Lord was glorified.
“And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?” (Acts 3:12) God granted great power to the disciples- they did miracles in His name. But God didn’t give them this great miracle working power and authority so they could make a name for themselves in Christian circles. He didn’t give them the power to heal and deliver so that people would flock to them. He didn’t give it for their sakes. “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.” (verse 13) He did it so that He might receive the glory.
There are so many others we could talk about but space doesn't allow. What we learn from them all, including our beloved Savior Jesus, is that it is not about us... It’s about Him; Him receiving glory. Look quickly with me at a few more scriptures which tell us that this should be the attitude of every Christian. “And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.” (Matthew 9:7,8) “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” “And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.” (John 15:8;17:10) “So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.” (Acts 4:21) “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48) “And they glorified God in me.” (Galatians 1:24) “That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you. (2 Thessalonians 1:12a) “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.” (1 Peter 4:11) “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
We must develop the “Godly” mentality and reject the “worldly one”. Every command we keep, every sermon we preach, every trial we go through, every time we witness to someone, every time we testify, every miracle that the Lord does through us, every promotion we get is not about us. It’s never for the purpose of promoting self, but promoting God instead that He might be glorified.