How often do we really try to figure out who we are? How much time do we devote to understanding the intricacies of our hearts and minds? I’m convinced that we don’t do it enough. Now, I am not saying we need to be self-centered. Being introspective and self-centered are not the same. I am merely saying that we should not walk blindly through life trying to understand the consequences of our actions, but instead should turn inward and seek to understand our motives, desires, and tendencies.
We are complex creatures so we shouldn’t be surprised when we don’t understand ourselves (too many personal pronouns, i know), but we shouldn’t settle for this. For example, let’s consider sin. We must understand why we sin in certain areas before we can attempt to remove that sin from our lives. Remember Paul in Romans 7 when he is perplexed by the fact that he does what he doesn’t want to do and fails to do the things he wants to do. Here is a man who understood himself. He realized that deep inside was a remnant of the “old self” that must constantly be put to death lest it reign over his body.
Last night I had an epiphany while watching BostonMed on TV. But, before I get into that I need to provide a little background information. So…I went to college planning on a career in medicine. I wanted to help people and “change the world.” Then, before my junior year God called me into vocational ministry to serve the body of Christ. Since then I have been in a constant battle to do two things, 1) understand the Global purpose of God (His glory and how I fit into that) and 2) put to death the “American Dream” mentality that is rooted so deeply in my nature (be successful, make lots of money, have renown). It’s a tough battle. Our culture tells us that this life is all that matters so we better make it good. On the other hand, God tells us that this world is fading away and that eternity looms close in the distance. Because of this struggle, I actually avoid TV shows about doctors because they stir up affections within me to pursue my glory and not that of God. With all of that in mind, let’s return to the epiphany. I gave in and watched a little of BostonMed but was thinking the entire time on what my life would be like if I were still pursuing medicine. Then, it hit me! The “old self” in me wants to impact this world, while the “new self” in me wants to impact eternity. Wow! What an insight to my nature.
The part of me that says, “You’ll never be famous as a pastor or truly help people” is the worldly part. It wants fame and glory in this life. The part of me that says, “I want to impact eternity by proclaiming the Gospel and discipling believers” is the spiritual part. It’s the part I’m trying to foster and grow, yielding myself to the Spirit’s leading and continual work in my life. At the same time I am struggling to put to death the remnant of my old life (a life of death).
I once heard John Mayer say, “You gotta deal with you at the end of the day.” Certainly not profound, but it’s true. I don’t expect this blog post to convince you of the importance of introspection but I do hope you’ll take my advice and at least try to turn inward. Try thinking, real thinking, and see what happens. Learn the benefit of understanding.