It’s becoming more and more difficult for people to engage in things that won’t service their self interest. The world is all about that selfishness that lurks within each of us, the human nature lusts to envy.
It is however expected that when it comes to the things of God, that self interest should take the back seat to let God have His way, but the spirit of self is too powerful and irresistible to make people put it behind them in God’s presence.
It takes a total deadness to self to deal with. It takes the total surrender to the Spirit of God and an absolute baptism into the realm of the Spirit to be free.
The foolishness we often parade is in thinking that we can have true convictions which we can be faithful to absolutely when we are yet to kill that selfish and self seeking thing within us. We can’t have any serious faith in anything, if it doesn’t have something for us that serves our selfish interests favourably until we have dealt with self interest.
And that’s why we love to see the Truth from the perspective of convenience. We are only convinced that it’s the truth when it is convenient, and to us, it can’t be true if it doesn’t serve our personal interests. Our personal interests become the judge of what’s right or wrong.
That self interest may not be money or material, it may be egoistic or sensual. It may just be that we don’t want to look like failures or like fools. It may just be a matter of public or self image. It may be a matter of personal or public recognition.
People can use such attitudes to throw away their long standing convictions, even if true, just to tell the world that they have made the right choices and to justify those choices.
But the truth isn’t about our self interests. Nobility is being able to go beyond self interests into accepting what’s true as one’s personal conviction. And that’s where our development, either as individuals or as people groups lay. We can’t develop holding to what suits us against what’s true. We have to embrace the Truth, even when it’s not in our own interests, when it didn’t support our preferences and experiences. It is then we can change for the better and not for the worse.
This is where Christ’s kind of discipleship comes in. You are ready to lose your social support, your financial aids, your rights and privileges in self denial and even your very life to your convictions in the Christ you are learning and following after as a disciple. It isn’t about your self interests, it is about your convictions of Christ. Luke 14:25-33
For apostle Paul, getting approval for ministry was about the pains associated and not the comforts that came from ministry. Anyone can do anything to get the comfort, but not many will sacrifice their convenience to follow a cause that brings social shame, poverty and perils.
2 Corinthians 11:23, “Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again.
24 “Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes”.
25 “Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea”.
26 “I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not”.
27 “I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm”.
28 “Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches”.
29 “Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?”
30 “If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am”.
We don’t want to be seen as fools and failures and so we tweak our convictions, but we don’t need all that. We can boast in the things that make us look weak and that will be enough to prove our discipleship and apostleship. We don’t need to change the colour of the truth to justify ourselves.
That’s why Paul differentiated for Timothy between those who to commit the word of God to and those to merely teach. Both groups are accepted in the beloved but if we are to preserve the quality of the Word bestowed on us, we have to choose well, those to commit it to.
2 Timothy 2:1, “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus”.
2 “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others”.
3 “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus”.
4 “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer”.
To some, the message is entrusted and committed, to others it is taught. The ones to whom it is entrusted must be found faithful and loyal, to those who are still on their way, it is only taught. Without proven faithfulness and loyalty to Christ and to His message, self interest will colour or discolour the message, convictions will waver and a wobbled faith will be passed on to coming generations.
We then should ask ourselves, what powers our convictions in Christ? Are they our self interests and the things we would get out of preaching the gospel or the fact that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life? How far are we ready to suffer inconveniences to stay true to the course and the cause of Christ?
May the Lord strengthen our convictions in Him with grace.
© Evans Adetokunbo Emmanuel