Lucia's Blog: THE ALTAR OF SELF
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Sunday, March 15, 2015

THE ALTAR OF SELF

"Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor." 
Proverbs 18:12


We live in the "me" generation.  The pursuit of  "self-realization" has elevated selfishness to new heights of "vain glory."  "Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion." (Proverbs 11:22).  Few things are more grotesque than the god that is self.  That is beauty without discretion. I invite you to think with me for a few moments about the "altar of self."

Today's culture is loud and proud.  Social media absorb us (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Blogger, etc.).  We are slaves, always posting about what we see, hear, think and do as if we were trying to impress someone. We have lost our sense of privacy. Our opinions, our thoughts, feelings or emotions are all posted on social media. We sound off without a second thought. We serve only our selfish and fleshly "interests."

We seem to strive for worldly perfection and the approval and praise of men.  Our social media compel us to seek the flattery of others, with the sole purpose of serving our vanity. We play the "comparison game" to see who is better. We gauge our worth according to our popularity. Shameless bragging comes as natural as breathing. Without realizing it, we fall into the snare of building an altar to self.  We forget to live for God in heaven. Instead, we live for self, serving our own vanity, pride, and selfishness. We fall to all of Satan's snares, feeding and nurturing our vain little god, through all of these fleshly things.

Serving ourselves feels good. It feels easy, safe, quick and painless.  We buy easily into the world's biggest lie of what real happiness is.  We try to find it ourselves.  We become easy prey to our culture's propaganda of "self-love" and "discovering one's true self." We set off on our journey to "find ourselves."  And although we may find out a lot of useful things through these techniques of self-help and discover a talent here and there, we still find ourselves lost and something is still missing. Our hearts still yearn for that definition of who we are and whom we are serving.  Our heart still misses the restoration that can only come by turning away from self and the sins of self, moving on toward Christ.  The altar of self that we have created is vain, conceited and sinful.

We keep forgetting that Christ never focused on His own vanity but rather on serving and loving others.  The prudent Christian does not seek "self" but Christ.  He is content to be the invisible servant known only to his Savior and Lord and approved of Him. The Lord's servant does not seek for opportunities to serve at the altar of self, his flesh.  He turns away from conceit and vanity.  This is not his principal aim in life nor does he seek it out.
"For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."  Galatians 5:13

The "altar of self" is loud, corrupt and uncontrolled.  The tongue cannot hold back because the "altar of self" will not allow it.  It expresses itself without control, doing what it wants and desires.  It does not care about the consequences to others.  The danger of the "altar of self" is that it does not encourage discretion.  The tongue leaves thoughtfulness behind.  Vain talk is valued over silence, wisdom.  Sadly, it renders us weak so that we do not restrain ourselves from our foolish thinking, so we make unwise choices.

Let us keep in mind that Christ was our best example of self-control.  He never made a fool of Himself.  He was wise and thoughtful with His words. He was tactful.  The Word of God places a high value on being thoughtful.  It values silence more highly than talk.  The prudent person uses discretion as his norm for living.  He knows what is appropriate to say or express without losing his temper or his self-control.  He is considered wise.  He knows when to be silent.

"Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent."  Proverbs 17:28
"A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back."  Proverbs 29:11
"When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise."  Proverbs 10:19

The primary goal of the "altar of self" is the perfect earthly life.  His only affection is the earthly life with little focus on the inner life, the heart, the inner man, the man that yearns to be like Christ.  He who builds the "altar of self," wastes his life chasing worldly perfection and satisfaction.  Contentment is ambiguous, difficult to find. Unfortunately, this is the American idea of success.

Let us not forget that Christ’s primary focus was to live for others, for us.  His primary focus was not on pursuing the praise and approval of men, material possessions, or living the good life.  His goal was to be faithful and lay down Himself and His life for us that we might live.  His affection was in heaven rather than on earth. We deceive ourselves when we think that living a "perfect life" means to chase after the altar of self, our selfish interests.  Christ is our best example of living and focusing on heavenly kingdom goals.  Christ focused on His heavenly kingdom and nothing else.  He focused on being at the right hand of His Father.  His goals were for the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Are we focusing mostly on ourselves or the kingdom of God, our Father?  We are in danger when we aim our goals at ourselves, the "altar of self," rather than at Christ and His kingdom, His rule.  It is in seeking the kingdom of God that we are going to find real joy and freedom.  Lest we forget, the self is a prison and Christ is our freedom.

"Then He said to them, 'Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.'"  Luke 12:15
"But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction."  I Timothy 6:9

The "altar of self" is mainly rooted in pride.  We run our lives masking and covering up our sins.  We cannot see the need for repentance or godly sorrow nor do we seek salvation.  All this serves only one purpose, and that is to fuel our pride, our temporary fleshly feelings of satisfaction and achievement. That pride leads us to believe that we are "good enough on our own" and that we are "good people."  Sadly, the need for surrender to the will of God and to follow God is never acknowledged.

Christ is our best example of humility.  There was no selfish pride in Him at all.  He was humble, lowly, meek and a servant.  He focused on God and His ministry.  His character is our example to follow.  He was focused on the love of others since there was no pride or selfishness in Him.  There was no "altar of self" in Him.  A true follower of Christ is not proud or selfish.  He knows that pride and selfishness cannot peacefully coexist with the self-denial of one who is a true follower of Christ.  If we do not pursue Christ and His righteousness, forsaking the altar of self, we cannot bear good fruit nor can we be saved.  It renders us weak and fruitless, making us lose our souls eternally.
"When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom."  Proverbs 11:2
"Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips."  Proverbs 27:2
"But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, 'God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble."'  James 4:6

May all of our goals be more Christ-like and less of the world.  May our primary focus be on God alone and His kingdom of righteousness.  May we enjoy the fruits of our labor and all of God's blessings. May they never take our primary focus from Christ and His kingdom.  May we never make idols out of them.  May we always focus on and store up our treasures in heaven and not on earthly ones, since they will eventually pass away.  May we always let God lead us, leaving behind the "altar of self." May we be more humble and obedient to God so that we may be wiser and at peace with Him and one day be in heaven with Him forever.

"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world."  I John 2:16  

Luci

On Bended Knee

On bended knee I come,
With a humble heart I come
Bowing down before Your holy throne
Lifting holy hands to You,
As I pledge my love anew
I worship You in spirit,
I worship You in truth
Make my life a holy praise unto You.

On bended knee We come,
With a humble heart We come
Bowing down before Your holy throne
Lifting holy hands to You,
As We pledge our love anew
We worship You in spirit,
We worship You in truth
Make our lives a holy praise unto You.