Consider Yourself, Consider Christ

I have recognized in myself the sinful propensity and inclination to think or speak in a belittling fashion towards others – particularly those that I do not know, that I may catch at a passing glance.  And I have recognized the same propensity any many others recently as well.  And this is not surprising, for the surrounding culture is a culture of self-deflecting jokesters, critics, and those disinclined to any serious reflection about anything (especially the source of their own conduct and patterns of life).

Jesus has taught us not to judge others . . . without first rightly considering and discerning the state of our own souls and selves.  Indeed, unbelievers should not be judged moralistically by believers.  Why?  Because they are unbelievers!  They are not saved; they will act like a people without the Spirit of God.  Expect that!  That does not, by the way, excuse us from confronting them with their sin and with the authority of Christ commanding that they repent and believe in Jesus.  But we should not judge them as if they were believers.  Regardless, it has becoming increasingly clear to me that we, as believers, must pay constant attention to ourselves.  What advantage does the believer gain by poking fun at someone without any teeth?  What foothold is obtained by laughing at the poor?  What importance is placed upon the kingdom of God when we disdain with our words those souls who are in danger of hell?  What arrogance and pomp is this that we engage in?  This is not the manner of Christ, and it must not be the manner of the Christian.

Rather, let us consider ourselves with great frequency.  It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, but the degree of our understanding of God’s grace is in some way proportional to one’s knowledge of the self apart from Christ, and the self when it – for a season – is left alone for testing.  For by this consideration, the Bible as a witness against us, testifies to our former helpless estate, the depravity of our souls, the sin to which we paid homage, the inclination in us all to love the darkness, hate the truth, and torturously murder the Son of God upon a tree.  But it also testifies to this: that as believers, those who have been grafted into the Vine, we can do nothing that pleases God or glorifies Him apart from the Vine, that is, Christ Jesus.  Thus, the bad that we do, we do – it is ours to own . . . and confess to our Father, and progress to walk in that bad no more in complete dependence upon God the Holy Spirit and the communion found in the Word of God.  But, moreover, the good that we do – and we, as distinct from the unbeliever, can do good – is, most properly, the work of God in us, though we behold the grace of God in this: that He attributes it in many places to us in the Lord.  

So, let us consider ourselves and get a right a weight of ourselves.  There is no room for arrogance or self-boasting in the Christian life.  There are absolutely no advantages derived from it.  We are who we are by the grace of God, without which we would be like or worse than those that we are sinfully inclined to mock or scoff at.  Let us remember this.  Let us look at ourselves – who we were, who God has made us, who we are, and who we will be; and let us give God the glory.  And when we have considered ourselves aright – if we have – we will be lowly, a humble people.  Indeed, if we see aright, we will be inclined to much sorrow.  And so Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s famous words are helpful: for every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.  

This is sound wisdom.  For where a constant gaze at ourselves will leave us void and in much anguish, so ten constant gazes at Christ will not only fill the void but cause it to overflow with His rich excellencies, His grace, His righteousness abounding.  But again, this glorifies His grace and nullifies vain glory.

Weighted rightly then, be silent if inclined to joke; consider yourself before slandering another; look to Christ and His cross – where our gossip and pride, our trampling over others was displayed in the work of the sinless Savior.  Be meek.  Be humble.  Be loving – and observe the soul of the person rather than the way they look, or talk, or the things they do; and perhaps, then, you will know the horror of your inclination to improperly judge, and be moved, instead, to speak to them face to face about your love and concern for them, and their need for the humble Christ that you profess to know – by grace.

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