When I talk to sisters about our walk with the Lord, we often repeat the phrase “It’s not about me,” several times together. Taken from our study of the “meek and quiet spirit” of I Peter 3, we can find practical guidelines for life’s decisions when we understand that every facet of daily living revolves around the fact that I am about helping people go to heaven. If I have this spirit, I dress to help those around me have purity. I arrange my schedule so that it includes faithful worship and can be interrupted when there are needs around me and chances to serve may come my way. I put aside my inhibitions and discomforts and speak to friends about the Lord. I go out of my way to be ethical, even when others may scorn my convictions.
Most of the time when I reach into my core-values-heart-of-hearts and pull out the phrase “It’s not about me,” I do so to give myself the nudge (sometimes I need a shove, though) to do the hard thing–the thing that I do not want to do for my Lord. I do not want to do something good for this enemy because it will make for an uncomfortable encounter. But my conscience presents me with this phrase and I bake that pie or send that card. I want to give my husband a piece of my mind because it just seems like he is too busy lately to even be thinking about what my psyche is needing from this marriage. I pull out the phrase and start concentrating on what I can give to the relationship rather than what I can get. You see how the phrase modifies my behavior when and if I can be strong enough to fully apply it and do the hard things that make life in Christ, ironically, both sacrificial and rewarding.
But, lately, I’ve thought a lot about how the phrase can do more than help make our decisions. It can comfort us. There are times when we can become very discouraged. Sometimes we can, if given the raw end of a deal or facing what we believe to be unjust criticism, begin to want to come to our own defenses. We want to bare our souls to others. We want to tell someone else just how wrong this accusation is or just how much we’ve personally sacrificed to make this good thing occur or to prevent this disaster. Our instinct is often to say, “Wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute. Let me just show you some details you’re overlooking!” In short, we may be tempted to toot our own miserable little horns.
And then we remember… ”It’s not about me.” The cause of Christ is about an old rugged cross on a hill called Golgotha. It’s about someone who became discouraged enough to weep drops as blood in a garden where those who were supposed to be watching were asleep. It’s about three years of a grueling ministry in which every day was met with false accusations and misunderstandings. It’s about a trial in which no man came to the defense of a perfectly innocent man. It’s about details overlooked–like 300-plus fulfilled prophecies or scores of people walking around as living proof that He was the very Son of God. It’s about how this misunderstood, falsely accused, beaten-down and discouraged man lived a sinless life, died an undeserved death, and conquered a grave–all for my sins. Yes, I remember. The overriding purpose of my life, the all-encompassing business I’m about is not me, in any sense.
There’s real comfort in the midst of sorrow when we wrap our minds around the fact that, if we are living faithfully, we do not have to prove to any accusers that we are worthy in any way. The fact is, without the blood, we are UNWORTHY in EVERY way. In spite of our best intentions and even the sacrifices we may have made to follow Him, we are still wretched without that old rugged cross. While we work to protect our good reputations, we can move on from discouragement without always feeling the need to vent. We move on from feeling “all alone” remembering Gethsemane. We move on when we’ve been hurt, remembering the cross. We can live with misperceptions when we read its inscription, “King of the Jews” (Mark 15:26). He was bruised, but I had iniquities. He was wounded, but I had transgressions. He was striped with that whip, but I was healed. Thus there is nothing, in my sinful state that I can endure that is worthy to even be compared with the glory of the cross. I am, if a sufferer, a guilty sufferer…not a glorified one. But I Peter 4:13 says that if I do have to suffer anything because I am His, that I am sharing or partaking in the suffering with Him and that it (the suffering) will fit me to be a partaker (or share in) His glory when He comes again. I love that. There’s comfort in knowing that the hard things that may come with living for Him are giving me a tiny little piece of the glory with which Jesus has been crowned (Heb. 2:9).
None of us is ready to say, “Bring on the suffering!” Perhaps we should be. In fact, no one reading this has any practical concept of the kind of suffering that was very real to Christians in the Roman Empire in the early days of the kingdom of Christ. But I can tell you, if you are living for Him, you will face a day when you will think, “Ouch, where did that jab come from?” or “That little accusation took me by surprise,” or “It’s no fun being all alone while standing for this moral principle or refraining from this bit of ‘fun’,” or “Well, I’ve cried a bucket of tears over this lost soul,” or “Can this pain over this lost opportunity for Him just please go away?” You already know how this feels, don’t you? It feels like you need consoling. It feels like you need someone to put His arms around you and say, “This is going to be okay.”
And so our Lord does this:
And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. (II Corinthians 1:7)
There is a great consolation for Christians who may be hurting for the Cause. Some who read the blog have written me letters about things that are hurting you… difficult things that have come your way because you are doing your best to live His way to His glory. Today’s post is for you. It is the most comforting part of realizing that Christianity is not about me. In the process of self-denial and Savior exaltation that comes during the blackest of times, I find myself closer to Him, more like Him… I find myself being a partaker with Him–a shareholder with the Lord in both suffering and, one day, glory. It makes me want to go out and live this day for Him!