Does brokenness still frighten you? I hope not. I pray that you will find the courage to stop resisting God in those unbroken areas of your heart and to invite the Lord to do whatever it takes to break your bondage to self. Start today by asking God to show you the ways in which self tyrannizes your life.
HOW BROKEN ARE YOU?
Self is subtle. It’s not easily recognized. But like poison, self is never more dangerous than when its presence is difficult to detect. Self tries to fool you into believing that it’s not the problem with your soul. The flesh even masquerades as something good and noble. It can pray and preach or be gracious and generous; but, eventually, it will mar and spoil everything it touches.
Only the light of Jesus can expose self. Just as a prism splits a beam of light into the primary colors, so the Word of God dismembers self, revealing its many forms. Watch for these manifestations of self in your behavior:
Self-will. Do you demand control over your circumstances? Do you have to do things your way, even if that means disobey ing God or hurting yourself, and others?
Not Jesus. Remember his watchword: “I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:30).
Self-aggrandizement. Do you eagerly seek admiration and adulation? Do you live for pleasure and glory? Would you do anything to achieve prominence or obtain power? Self loves to be the center of attention. Determined to have the best, self never stops feeding its insatiable appetite for great things.
How different Jesus was. “I do not seek my own glory, He said (John 8:50).
Self-assertion. Do you love the sound of your own voice? Do you monopolize conversations, assuming that others are as interested in your life as you are? Do you rate your stories and opinions as the best?
Jesus never had such a pompous attitude. “l am gentle and humble in heart, He claimed (Matthew 11:29).
Self-indulgence. Desire, emotion, and passion -not principle- motivate self. Do you demand self-gratification on call? Do you find it hard to deny or discipline yourself? When continually overindulged, even legitimate appetites can become tyrannical.
Unlike the unbroken self, Jesus never did things merely to please Himself. “I always do the things that are pleasing to Him (My Father),” He said (John 8:29).
Self-pity. Do you love sympathy? Do you enjoy feeling sorry for yourself? Are you likely to complain about circumstances or relationships? Do you exaggerate your sorrows or dwell on petty problems or discomforts? Jesus was not immune to this temptation. When He predicted His death, Peter rebuked Jesus saying, “God forbid it, Lord. This shall never happen to You” (Matthew 16:22).
Unknowingly perhaps, Peter was encouraging Jesus to feel sorry for Himself, which explains why Jesus denounced His friend so vehemently. “Get behind Me, Satan,” Jesus replied. “You are a stumbling block to me” (Matthew 16:23).
Clearly, Jesus recognized self-pity’s satanic origin. Even as the women wept for Him at the cross He turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for me… ” (Luke 23:28).
Self-consciousness. Self never forgets itself. Do the thoughtless things people say and do wound you easily? Do you imagine offenses when none were intended? Do you enjoy a good pout?
Jesus, by contrast, forgot Himself in serving others. Remember this scene? “Jesus …laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, girded Himself about. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet…” (John 13:3-5).
Self-depreciation. When faced with an undesirable challenge, self’s first impulse is to be negative by focusing on its in abilities and weaknesses. That may be satisfying to the flesh – and convenient if you’re looking for a way out- but in doing so, you’re giving Satan a foothold in your mind – and running yourself into the ground at the same time.
Remember, my friend, success comes not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of God (Zechariah 4:6).
Self-love. What are your motives in a relationship? The flesh loves and serves others, not so much to please them, but to feel good about itself, and to magnify its own happiness and comfort.
Paul describes Jesus quite differently as “the Son of God who loved me (not Himself) and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Self-justification. Do you hate to be wrong? Do you have an excuse for every failure or short coming? Convincing self that it’s wrong is nearly impossible because the flesh hates to apologize or admit fault. Conversely, self loves to declare its rights and seek retribution from those who dare to overlook them.
Jesus, on the other hand, refused to justify His claims or actions. like a silent sheep before its shearers. He never opened His mouth to defend Himself (Isaiah 53:7). When His accusers hurled insults at Him, Jesus did not retaliate. When He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He “kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23).
Trusting God – that’s the key to brokenness. Without trust, you’ll never be able to deny self or give up your “rights” to health, happiness, and success on your own terms. Without trust, you’ll keep scheming and striving and running ahead of God like an unbroken horse that can’t be guided.
I encourage you to leave the pasture behind for now and to venture into God’s training arena where the blessings of brokenness await you. There you will learn how to entrust yourself to God and how to depend on Him, and Him only.
Part 3 of 3
Unless otherwise specified. Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible.
Bob Phillips (1947-2017) was a respected pastor and author. This article was featured in his newsletter, Come Up Higher (vol. 1, issue 9). Some of his resources are at https://www.pastorbobphillips.com/