Too much emphasis upon self results in chasing after the wind. The “I, me and my” attitude deprives satisfaction and better life. Human beings are self-centered people. No matter how much or whatever they have, they are unhappy. The more they work for their good, the more they want. There is no wrong in seeking a good life or a life of joy. To enjoy the things for which one works for is God’s gift, but to what extent? One can exert himself to work hard or engage in various works that his or her life is filled with all the things he or she desires. Yet, when the desires are met, will they find contentment? It is painful to realize that a desires fulfilled life is not life fulfilled. Men learn this by putting themselves through grievous tasks. The more they strive for themselves, the less they see the result of it. They fail to know their ultimate purpose.
Thankfully, God’s Word helps us fulfill our ultimate purpose. It reveals the futility or discontentment waiting to absorb us, waiting to leave us in a fix. We are taught that by believing in God for all things we do not have to exert ourselves like men. Through the life of His servant He has made known to us the mystery of life. Life is not fulfilled by striving for comfort and desires, but it is fulfilled by trusting and obeying God. His servant found out that this aspect is what made him whole. God blessed the work of his hands so that through him He brings out the mystery of life. Solomon said, “I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself” (Eccl. 2:4). Through his circumstances, glory and honor God made him realize the most important aspect in life. In it he found a fulfilled life. His life and wisdom teaches of those things that cannot give us perfect joy and satisfaction; those things do not bring upon us God’s perpetual blessings. Surely, God blesses us with the desires of our heart. But, He wants us to know that they do not give a fulfilled life.
Many seek blessings from God, and God too hears them. He blesses them that they are not famished. However, it is a pity when they consider them as the basis for a fulfilled life. Paul too elsewhere says that believers are of all men most pitied, if they hoped in Christ in this life alone. What does it mean? Is not Christ our hope in this life? He is, but more so for the life He gives in heaven. What am I saying? That we should draw a clear line between the things that end up becoming meaningless and the things that are meaningful. Then our desire will be more for God and His will. Solomon was able to draw that clear line, although at one time he drifted away from God. He did not handle aright the glory, blessings and honor God conferred on him. Nevertheless, by life experiences he came to his senses and corrected himself. The wisdom that taught him to trust and obey God again bore fruit in him. He fulfilled his ultimate purpose, which is to glorify God.
We must realize that if we do not desire God and His will more than all the other things, we become self-centered. Solomon at one point in his life became self-centered. And because of this he made the nation of Israel sin against God; subsequently, God suffered. He built high places and offered sacrifices to foreign gods. The nation of Israel followed him. Self-centeredness leads to disobey God; more so, it leads to ignore His emotions, law and desires. The result is baffling. People lose interest in God and His holiness; consequently, they lose the wisdom that allows them to think sensibly. That which Solomon did against God remained a stumbling block to Israel for the rest of their days. Though the high places were removed by some that followed him, they still made their way back, because they had a lasting impression on peoples’ minds. The generations born from them were acquainted with foreign gods alone. And when God’s prophets went to correct them to bring them back to Him, they found out their stubbornness. “‘I will go to the great and will speak to them, for they know the way of the LORD and the ordinance of their God.’ But they too, with one accord, have broken the yoke and burst the bonds” (Jer. 5:5).
Israel completely gave in to disobedience. They forsook the truth and entered into all forms of sin. Self-centered attitude has the ability to make people think in ways that are far from God’s will. Consider the world we live in and the sin prevalent in it, and we can understand the danger of a self-centered life. People’s desire is for themselves alone. They forget their Creator. The simplest way for a believer to become useless to God is to dwell on the physical blessings He gives, i.e. to not be able to draw that line clearly. But if he or she is able to desire God and His will, their blessings will have honor; they retain their blessings. They become more open hearted to serve Him. They obtain His trust for more blessings. They go on to fulfill their ultimate purpose. And we see Jesus calling out to Peter. “So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My lambs’” (John 21:15).
God wants us to desire Him more than all the things He has given us. He blessed us, because He loved us. He does not intend we be famished in serving Him. He will not reverse the principle of trusting and obeying Him. But He wants us to know that the things He gives us to survive, enjoy and be satisfied on this earth do not equate with a place in His home. Hence, He also gives us His will. And, Jesus told Peter to tend His lambs. The only thing God looks in us to give His will is our love for Him. It establishes whether our desire for Him and His will is greater than all other things. Like Jesus said – our heart will be where our treasure is. By this our love toward Him will be known to Him. You see, all that fish did not matter to Jesus, though it was He who gave them to Peter and the rest. He gave him and then spoke to him so that he draws that line clearly. Why did Jesus choose to convey this to Peter alone? Obviously, the rest learned His intent from hearing it. But, why did He address Peter alone? Was it because he denied Him earlier? Was it because he was weaker than the rest? They all ran away at His arrest just as the Scripture foretold! But, it was because God chose him for a specific task. Jesus never doubted his love for Him. Do you think He doesn’t know you love Him? He knows you do, but He wants your love to be perfect, i.e. to love Him more than all that He has given you. [For the lack of such love many do not even give to the Lord as they should]. Then, you will fulfill your ultimate purpose – to glorify Him brilliantly.
God blesses us so that we desire Him more. When our love toward Him grows cold, He does not bless us further. He waits until we turn around to desire Him. The time in between will teach us of our lapse in loving Him. One man that loved the Lord incessantly was Paul. He loved Him to perform His will. See what He said. “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void” (1 Cor. 1:17). Had he not loved Jesus just as Jesus wanted Peter to love Him, he would have made the cross void. But, he was a man who understood what loving Christ involves, means and gives. It is not superfluous that he called love the greatest attribute. He was a man who left everything and obeyed the Lord; a man who deprived himself of self-centeredness. Were he a half-hearted man for Christ, he would have only baptized using clever speech. And though He was chosen, he would have been useless to God.
By drawing that line Peter and Paul were never deprived of glory, honor and blessings; they lacked nothing. By doing it they became weak and foolish so that they are made strong and wise for Christ. Draw that line clearly and you will see how much more you will be able to love the Lord. You will see how much more you can trust and obey Him. You will do greater things than you ever have. As Christians in the early church drew that line, they became better for Christ. Paul wrote, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9). They learned not to lay too much emphasis on themselves, but rather escalated their desire for the Lord and love for the saints. As a result, God gave them the knowledge of His will that is with all spiritual wisdom and understanding. This should be our goal and will be ours as we draw that line. Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame” (Rev. 16:15).
See, having God’s will is great. It is a blessing, indeed a luxury. But, having the knowledge of it is like having a golden crown with diadems. By it we perform His will perfectly, without lapses, and retain His blessings. It brings glory, honor and more blessings. Without it we become useless to Him. With the spiritual wisdom and understanding in it we do not fail, because we receive from Him every guidance, teaching, way and help that is needed. What have we done to end up being such a success for the Lord?! We just haven’t been a self-centered people. “Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold” (Mark 4:8).