Summary: The importance of self in determining one's destiny. To hell or heaven.
The Paradox of ‘self’
“For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?”
In 2 timothy chapter 3, Apostle Paul warns us of the terrible times that will be in the last days. The idea is not something new but He just builds on what Christ had heralded already in the Mount of Olives. When “the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matt. 24:3 KJV) Christ started off His prophesy with a word of caution “Take Heed”.Look out. Do not be ignorant of the signs of the times. “For in the last days perilious times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1 KJV). Well Paul was a great scholar and a teacher who doesn’t stop there with vague terminologies. He goes further on and elaborates saying “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:2-4 NIV) So in order to comprehend what Paul is trying to teach us about our ‘self’ let us break it down into sections and carefully and scrutinize its parts.
1. Lovers of self Vs Givers if self.
Paul begins his catalogue with a strange yet a certain description of the people in the end times. They will be ‘lovers of self’. They will be ‘lovers of money’ to meet the demands of the self. But we all know that these are not wrong in themselves. For Christ said “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Matt. 19:19 NIV) so loving one’s self is never a mistake. The Wisest man who ever lived calls money a ‘shelter’ (Eccl.7:12 NIV) and we all know that money is basic in meeting our daily needs. But it is when they become in excess that they become as poisons. When love for self becomes prime the love for God and the love for man are nullified..
Lovers of self
1. Gehazi (2 Kings 5:23) for the worth of two talents of silver and two sets of clothing lost his own soul.
2. Judas (Matt 26:15) was counted out for thirty pieces of silver only to hang as a banquet of flesh for the fowls of the air.
3. The Self absorbed couple, Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5) fell dead at the feet of Peter for the want of self. Instant death yet eternal.
Afterall the fundemental problem wayback in the courts of heaven was lucifer’s love for self. He loved himself more than he loved God. (Isaiah 14)
Givers of self
1. Zacchaeus (Luke 19:8) gave half of his possesions to the poor and laid up his treasures in heaven. Wise! Isn’t he? And Christ said ‘Salvation has come to this home today”. Giving is a sign of redemption.
2. Stephen (Acts 7) gave his own life for the sake of the Gospel. As they stoned, “Stephen full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” If you read through carefully, in most places we read Christ sitting at the right hand of God but when we give ourselves for the sake of Christ, He is not sitting relaxed by the throne of His Father. But He stands. He stands with His arms wide open to receive us.
3. Peter, James, John, Thomas, Paul, and all of the disciples, Martin Luther, John Huss, and all of the mortiers for Christ whom you can think about, they all gave up their own self for the sake of God. Lo He assures (Matt 16:25 NIV) “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
God loves you and me more than Himself that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16) to die like an ox or a lamb in the cross of calvary. Christ gave up His Own self to redeem mankind and put and end to the ceaseless intoxication of sin and death.
2. Seek self Vs Meek self
Paul continues his lengthy list, with men being “boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, and slanderous”. Man seeks his own glory, blows his own horn and sings his own praises. Man has become pompous, high mined, swollen with pride and conceit, looking down his nose at other people. Abusing and insulting innocent folk, old people and even parents. Men no longer seem to know the concepts of gratitude, forgiveness and love. No wonder Christ said “the love of many shall wax cold” (Matt 24:12 KJV) Men are absorbed in their own selves. If you need some illustrations turn on your news channel or glance through your daily newspaper. The other day a man was trying to convince me to join his bussiness. All that I have to do is to endorse some products and I would get 20% commission. When I said I need to go through the product details, if they are good, if they are worth buying, etc the man interrupted saying, “Why are you bothered so much about others? All you ve got to do is to make them use our product and you get 20%” We are getting more and more self centred everyday and the problem is that we are accustomed to it. “Theories of the Survival of the fittest even promote seeking of the self.” But beloved meekness is not weakness. The theory of survival that God edifies is that (Matt. 5:5) “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” not only for now but forever.