Freed from Self-Regard

Eric Ortlund | Sep 14, 2010

I find when I am not explicitly aware of and practicing the surrender of myself to God - not just in occasional experiences of being taken out of myself, but literally putting my time and energy and (meager) talent on the altar and telling God, "These aren't mine any more - they're yours, to do with however you wish, for purposes great or small" - so that literally, actually my being and trajectory are flung out of self-regard into Christ - when I don't do that, it's hard to stick with things. When I'm stuck in myself, doing things in and for myself, within the (meager) range of my own resources, it's difficult to stick with things that I'm not naturally good at - because the whole point is to build myself up instead of glorifying God, whenever I start to make mistakes, I give something up, or I'm much less inclined to do it. Or I just get tired and go back to something I already know.

But when I can really enjoy being out of myself, not living in and for and of myself, but in and for Christ, within the sphere of his resources, its so much easier to do the things which he's called me to do, even when I do them badly - because it's not about making me look good. I'm doing it for someone else's sake, so the focus is off how well I'm performing or whether I can immediately see good results from what I'm doing. I can continue at something for years without seeing fruit, because it's not about self-regard - just about pleasing something else.

I've told my new Hebrew students to study this way, and I'm already looking forward to how the Lord will shape them through his kind of pedagogy. But I need to do it too, in the frustrating round of grading and talking and getting rejection notices on articles and stories - none of this is about me looking good, or me being satisfied in my own labor or accomplishments.

I am again struck by how, in Galatians 2, Paul moves so quickly from the Son who loved him and gave himself for him, so that the life Paul lives he lives in that Son. The two sides of the gospel: forgiveness and surrender - redemption and the giving of one's self back to God.