What I'm about to ask won't be easy to answer.
When was the last time you did something outwardly "for God" that was actually inwardly motivated by personal gain?
That's a hard question because it first requires the courage of humble honesty. It's not easy for us to admit that we prioritize ourselves over our Lord and Savior.
But second, it's a hard question because we struggle to see our motives, words and actions with biblical accuracy.
Let me rephrase the question and lead with personal confession, using two examples from my own life and ministry.
When was the last time you served someone you loved, not first because you wanted to freely sacrifice for their good, but because you were attempting to put them in your debt for later?
When was the last time you participated in a public ministry activity, not first because you wanted to build the Kingdom of God, but because you wanted other people to notice, respect, admire, or accept you?
You see, in our everyday lives, the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of self are always at war with one another.
As long as sin remains, our motives, words and actions are shaped by a troublesome mix of the agenda of these two kingdoms.
So today, I want to give you five questions to ask of yourself regularly. These questions are not designed to beat you down with guilt, but to give you eyes to see the deceptive kingdom of self.
1. Self-Focus: Before making a decision, do you think, "What's in it for me?" or do you freely sacrifice for the good of another without expecting a return?
2. Self-Righteousness: Are you more concerned with, and on the lookout for, the sin, weakness and moral failure of others than you are your own?
3. Self-Satisfaction: Do you feel regularly discontent, always looking for something new to satisfy you, instead of being satisfied with a God-honoring life?
4. Self-Reliance: Do you avoid living in intrusive and intentional relationships, where others admit their need for grace and seek the help of biblical community?
5. Self-Rule: Which law gets the most attention and the quickest response in your life and relationships, the Word of God or your own desires?
That's a pretty devastating list of questions! Which of us could ever measure up to that standard?
But we have Good News - there is a Warrior Savior, and abundant grace for the battle of these two kingdoms!
On the Cross, Jesus broke the power of the kingdom of self. He paid the debt for every self-centered motive, word and action that we prioritize over biblical living.
On the Cross, Christ purchased power for us to obey, and with his resurrection, he guarantees that some day our kingdom conflict will be over.
Until then, your Lord battles zealously on your behalf, and he will never rest until the battle is over. Why don't you commit yourself right now to be one of his soldiers?
- Ask yourself again: When was the last time you did something outwardly "for God" that was actually inwardly motivated by personal gain?
- Which of the five questions do you feel most convicted by, and why?
- What is one practical step that you can take to focus on the Kingdom of God over the kingdom of self in that area?