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“It’s Not About Us!” 1 Samuel 15:27-35 Key verse(s) 30:“Saul replied, ‘I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.’”

We truly live in the age of self and ego. When you stop to think about it, a good part of our day every day is spent trying to look good. We get up in the morning and we shower and shave. For the ladies among us we have the further distinction of make-up. We choose our clothes mostly based on what others might think of us, not how we actually feel in them. If clothing styles had anything to do with comfort or utility why would department stores shelves be so filled with tight-fitting jeans that are constrictive by design and as revealing as possible. Instead of attaching above the waist-line where God put the hips upon which we could conveniently and in utility hang our clothing, we opt to attach them across the hips so that more of our “self” shows, abandoning any sense of comfort or utility in favor of ego and appearance. We go to work thus constricted and make every effort to glorify ourselves further. We strive to impress and cater to those around and above us. Heaven help us if we should slip up and actually make a mistake in the process. It is almost like being on stage for eight to ten hours and then we go home, to the most important people in the world, abandon our finery and drop our pretense to don the shabbiest clothing we own and “be ourselves.”

It truly seems to be all about “me” and less about “you.” Each day is one more day of self-absorption and getting to know “who we really are.” When you think about it, I guess it is quite natural in light of who we “really” are. Bombarded daily by the world, our flesh and Satan, retreating into a world of self-interest and self-glorification is really quite natural. Our flesh would surely be comfortable in that it is best served when all attention is focused upon it. Satan has always elevated “self” to its very highest level; for it was with “self” that he first tempted Eve and it was for “self” that Adam consented to sin. It is only natural that our days would be filled with “self” as steeped in sin as we are.

At the end of World War II, General George S. Patton had the occasion to lament the war’s end in a quiet walk that he took with his friend and mentor General Omar Bradley. He told “Brad” that he actually was sad to see the war ending in Europe and that he would miss the “struggle” and the “dynamics” of warfare. Patton related to Bradley how, although he saw the brutality and vanity of warfare, he had been “born to it” and that was all he had ever known. Bradley tried to console his old friend by suggesting that he continue on in Europe and fight the new battles that would surely be emerging as war-torn Europe struggled to get back on its feet. George wasn’t convinced. “I need to hear the clash of arms and the sound of bugles.” Patton insisted. Bradley then reminded Patton that there was still a war going on in the Pacific and that perhaps General MacAurthur would be needed his help there. Patton shook his head sadly and quietly replied. “No, Brad. Doug would never want me there. That would never happen.” When Bradley asked why Patton smiled and responded. “No, MacAurthur wouldn’t have me. You see, we fought in the same company in World War I; MacAurthur was a captain, and I was his lieutenant. One day our company was commanded to take a hill but our troops were pinned down by enemy artillery. When MacAurthur got the order, he jumped to his feet and charged up that hill urging his men to follow him. I advanced with him step by step all the way to the top.” Then Patton added, “MacAurthur never forgave me for that.” (Haddon Robinson, “Responsible and Dynamic Leadership: A Challenge”)

Looking good at all costs is something that all of us are subject to. Saul, the King of Israel, was as much afflicted by a sense of needing to look good at all costs as anyone. There was a lot at stake and Saul had to choose between looking good in the eyes of his peers or looking good in the eyes of his God. Unfortunately, he chose the former over the latter. He just couldn’t bear to be humiliated or in any way diminished in the eyes of the elders of Israel. He was even willing to abandon his eternal relationship with God just in order to save face in Israel. Saul failed to understand that God didn’t just want some of his time and attention. For that matter, God didn’t even want all of his time and attention. No. God wanted Saul, all of him–his very self. When Saul sinned against God, he was given an opportunity to repent and return to the Lord in humility and selflessness. Saul chose to compromise and given God an apology but keep his self-esteem. That he wouldn’t abandon for anyone, not even God. In so doing, he chose to deny God the very thing that God desires, the self. God accepts no compromise when it comes to ourselves. He wants all of us so that what we have as “our” self can be destroyed and replaced with “His” self. A pretty good trade when you think about it.

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