Being Little in Your Eyes is Key to Being Satisfied in Your Heart

21 Mar

I am often surprised by the people who pass me when I am running. I just can’t understand how someone running that slowly can pass me when I am running this fast.

Obviously I have a distorted self-image.

And I don’t think I am alone. It can be very difficult to see yourself accurately and while not seeing yourself accurately isn’t a very big problem when it comes to a middle age runner, it is a very big problem for us in other areas of life.

For example, one of the reasons many of us have such a hard time experiencing contentment is because we do not have an accurate view of who we are and what we deserve. If you want to learn biblical contentment work on developing an accurate view of self.

I want to take a moment and look at some of the pictures the Bible gives us of ourselves that may help us with being content.

Specifically, Jeremiah Burroughs offers these suggestions.

* We deserve nothing but hell.

We often have a long list of rights, but really what rights do we have? We are creatures. Sinful creatures at that. And as created beings who are living their lives in rebellion to the Creator there is only one thing that our actions deserve and that is judgement.

* We can do nothing apart from Christ.

We sometimes look at what we have and what we have accomplished as if we earned it when in reality it is only a gift.

* We are worse than nothing.

When something goes wrong in our lives, we often feel like victims. “Here I am God, living my life, just doing my thing, and You are actively seeking to mess it up.” The biblical picture of us is quite different. We were not neutral. We were rebels against God. And the only reason, we are believers now is because in His mercy, He’s pursued us.

* We are limited in our understanding of what is happening to us.

We do not see things exactly as they are. We see one piece of the puzzle, when God sees the entire puzzle. Arguing with God about one specific event in our life is a little like a person who is putting together a puzzle arguing with the one who designed it about one particular grey piece he doesn’t like when he hasn’t even seen the whole picture yet.

* Our hearts are deceitful.

We are actually able to take good gifts and make them bad ones and we will do that every time apart from the grace of God. Just think of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Even a perfect world wasn’t enough for human beings to be content. We really can’t enjoy one good gift as God intended without His stooping down to help us.

* God does not need us.

There have been times where I have struggled with contentment because I was thinking as if the ministry were dependent on me. “God you have to expand my avenues of service because I am, well me and you need me, right?” Wrong. And you know that doesn’t depress me. I am actually pretty happy that God isn’t limited by my abilities. To be used at all is grace. To be a toilet scrubber in God’s kingdom is more than I deserve.

If we are going to become content we need Jesus to help us obtain an accurate view of ourselves.

Jeremiah Burroughs puts it like this,

“To become content Christ must teach the soul this, so that, as in the presence of God on a real sight of itself, it can say:

‘Lord I am nothing, Lord I deserve nothing, Lord I can do nothing, Lord I am worse than nothing, and if I come to nothing and I perish I will be no loss at all and therefore is it such a great thing for me to be cut short here?’

A man who is little in his own eyes will account every affliction as little, and every mercy as great.

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6 Responses to “Being Little in Your Eyes is Key to Being Satisfied in Your Heart”

  1. Thomas Hochstetter March 21, 2012 at 8:41 am #

    Thanks Josh. This is a very good post! It’s true that we think way too much of ourselves (I know this well). Just one more thought on the last comment by Burroughs: although I am nothing and, on my own, can do nothing, it does not mean that God cannot use me for great things (as He would define greatness).

    I think at times there is an unhealthy focus on our inability, when through an obedient and prayerful life God could use us for whatever He has. Is expecting big things from a big God (so long as I am in the right place, as you said above) counting oneself too high? (I know it’s not what you are saying, it’s a question I have ;-)).

    • Joe Lima March 22, 2012 at 10:06 am #

      Thomas, I know where you are coming from. In of ourselves we are nothing, however by adoption we are son’s of God. There is a balance there that one needs to grasp.

  2. joshnmarda March 22, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    I love this quote from Warfield regarding the balance you are talking about:

    “We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all.

    This is not true of us only “when we believe.”

    It is just as true after we have believed.

    It will continue to be true as long as we live.

    Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in Christian behavior may be.

    It is always on His “blood and righteousness” alone that we can rest.

    There is never anything that we are or have or do that can take His place, or that can take a place along with Him.

    We are always unworthy, and all that we have or do of good is always of pure grace.

    Though blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ, we are still in ourselves just “miserable sinners”: “miserable sinners” saved by grace to be sure, but “miserable sinners” still, deserving in ourselves nothing but everlasting wrath. That is the attitude which the Reformers took, and that is the attitude which the Protestant world has learned from the Reformers to take, toward the relation of believers to Christ.

    There is emphasized in this attitude the believer’s continued sinfulness in fact and in act; and his continued sense of his sinfulness. And this carries with it recognition of the necessity of unbroken penitence throughout life. The Christian is conceived fundamentally in other words as a penitent sinner.

    But that is not all that is to be said: it is not even the main thing that must be said.

    It is therefore gravely inadequate to describe the spirit of “miserable sinner Christianity” as “the spirit of continuous but not unhopeful penitence.” It is not merely that it is too negative a description, and that we must at least say, “the spirit of continuous though hopeful penitence.” It is wholly uncomprehending description, and misplaces the emphasis altogether.

    The spirit of this Christianity is a spirit of penitent indeed, but overmastering exultation.

    The attitude of the “miserable sinner” is not only not one of despair; it is not even one of depression; and not even one of hesitation or doubt; hope is too weak a word to apply to it.

    It is an attitude of exultant joy.

    Only this joy has its ground not in ourselves but in our Savior.

    We are sinners and we know ourselves to be sinners, lost and helpless in ourselves.

    But we are saved sinners; and it is our salvation which gives the tone to our life, a tone of joy which swells in exact proportion to the sense we have of our ill-desert; for it is he to whom much is forgiven who loves much, and who, loving, rejoices much.”

    • Thomas Hochstetter March 24, 2012 at 8:20 am #

      Thanks Josh. Theology matters 😉 Phil 4:4-13 comes to mind. Thanks for sharing your musings, they’re always refreshing and getting the mind going about how big thoughts impact day to day (as it always should).

  3. Joe Lima March 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    This is a good quote indeed.

  4. Boitumelo March 23, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    .. Amen. Beautiful and humbling, Thank you Dylan for sharing this.

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