Summary: God’s Word spells it out: on our own, we cannot measure up. Theme: The emptiness of riches without Christ.

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Someone once said:

Fred Allen said, "I don’t have to look up my family tree, because I know that I’m the sap!" He also said, "Some movie stars wear their sunglasses even in church. They’re afraid God might recognize them and ask for autographs."

On the other end of the self-confidence scale, Muhammad Ali said, "I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was." ALSO: "When you are as great as I am it is hard to be humble." ALSO: "I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest."

We live in a self-centered world. As far back as we can remember, we have heard, "You deserve a break today." And "This Bud’s for you." And don’t forget, "Have it your way."

Frank Sinatra summed up the attitude of the age in his big hit:

And now, the end is here

And so I face the final curtain

My friend, I’ll say it clear

I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain

I’ve lived a life that’s full

I traveled each and ev’ry highway

And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

Regrets, I’ve had a few

But then again, too few to mention

I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway

And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

Notice how many times the word "I" appears in those lyrics.

For the singer to admit, "Regrets, I’ve had a few" would be an understatement. When we make ourselves the center of things, it usually leads to regret and disappointment.

In retirement Ali has suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, a motor-skills illness which has slowed his movement and left him mostly unable to speak in public... imagine the disappointment.

For the time being, I think you would agree that, for the most part, people feel pretty good about themselves; especially in our society. In a recent study, a standardized math test was given to teenagers from six different nations. Besides the math questions, the test asked the youngsters to respond yes or no to the question, "I am good at mathematics." American students scored lowest on the math questions, far behind Korean students, who had the top scores. Ironically, more than three-fourths of the Korean students had answered no to the "I am good at math" question. In stark contrast, however, 68 percent of the American students believed their math skills were just fine. Our kids may be failing math, but they obviously feel pretty good about how they are doing.

Morally, our culture is in precisely the same boat. Cumulative evidence strongly suggests that society is at an all-time moral low. We might expect people¡¦s self-esteem to be suffering as well. But statistics show Americans are feeling better about themselves than ever. In a survey conducted in 1940, 11 percent of women and 20 percent of men agreed with the statement, "I am an important person." In the 1990s, those figures jumped to 66 percent of women and 62 percent of men. Ninety percent of people surveyed in a recent Gallup Poll say their own sense of self-esteem is robust and healthy. Incredibly, while the moral fabric of society is unraveling, self-esteem is thriving.

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