Anchor, Hillsong Worship

Eye of the Storm, Ryan Stevenson

“The normal human ego is built on something besides God.”
Søren Kierkegaard, paraphrased 

A devastating passage, for those who do not have an anchor. Is it any wonder so many are without hope? Our culture builds security on seemingly everything and anything but God:  a nicer home, our talents, our careers, our notoriety, our name, our ego, the good opinion of others, our identity built around these things. Timothy Keller expounds on Kierkegaard’s above exposition on Sickness Unto Death, saying that “[the ego] searches for something that will give it a sense of worth, a sense of specialness and a sense of purpose and builds itself on that” (Keller, 15). 

In other words, my fragile ego cares about what you think about my writing and how I express myself. I am in danger of being deflated by your opinion of me. And that, my friend, is an exhausting place to rest my heart. If my needy heart wants to hear approval in the latest fashion I wear or lives for a “high” from my husband’s latest compliment on the meal I just invested in, I set my expectations in a place other than God. 

But if I hinge my hope in the words of God over me, then I become merely an instrument of His. I can believe His words of Isaiah 51:7 and 16, “Do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their insults…for I have put My words in your mouth.” He makes Himself responsible for the investment I offer back to Him through my obedience. I don’t have to exhaust myself worrying about what your opinion is of me, or if the meals I make aren’t complimented, and I don’t need to feed my ego, seeking “a sense of specialness and a sense of purpose” when I am building my expectation on God. The reality is that my family needs to eat, and it is an honor and privilege to raise my children in a healthy environment with nourishing food. My goal isn’t to feed my ego; it’s to feed my children. The reality is that I gain personal satisfaction when I see my words on paper, processing God’s truths as it relates to my current situations, praying His words and prophesying them over my family and friends. My goal isn’t to seek man’s approval; it is to obey the Lord. 

I love Keller’s description of Paul in his book The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness:  The Path to True Christian Joy. Paul’s identity wasn’t based on the opinion of the Corinthians. “He had enormous ballast, tremendous influence, incredible confidence” (Keller, 29). Ballast: n, heavy material, such as gravel, sand, iron, or lead, placed low in a vessel to improve its stability; something that gives stability or substance (New Oxford Dictionary). His tremendous influence wasn’t centered on who he was (the worst of sinners, according to 1 Tim.1:15), but on who God was in him. Paul’s ego wasn’t puffed up; it was filled up with God.

It’s like the age-old Vacation Bible School song about the wise man building his house upon the Rock. We don’t need to constantly compare ourselves or our houses to our friends’ houses, or stuff, or talents, or how busy we are. His Kingdom can be built within us only when we keep our eyes fixed on the true Rock.

The essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.
Timothy Keller

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