Remember that my word for this year is SELFLESS? It's an area that I struggle with a lot and an issue that God is dealing seriously with me about.
In our study this week's topic is repentance. Ooooo. Ouch! Not a fun topic for me. I am more remorseful than repentant. But I won't go into that now - it's one of the issues that I'm unsure if I want to be transparent about.
Today was about having a change of mind … recognizing & running from temptation and responding quickly to the Holy Spirit's conviction. That change in mind - true repentance - will result in a change in my behavior (Matthew 3:8, Luke 3:8, Acts 26:20). NO WONDER I have not seen a change in my behaviors that I struggle with!!! I've not been repentant, I've simply felt bad about my sin.
I began to realize that my thinking is REALLY messed up! I think about myself all.the.time. No wonder I am so self-consumed! I do truly regard myself higher than everyone else … definitely NOT how we are told to think in Romans 12:3 (… I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment …).
Philippians 2:3 says
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.Ha! It says do NOTHING in that manner or for that reason. Nothing. Do you know what nothing means? NO thing, not at all, to no degree. Hmmm. If I am thinking about myself all the time, then I bet that all the time I am doing everything in that manner.
So what does rivalry and conceit mean? You know I'm about to break out the concordance and dictionary, don't you? Bear with me :)
That version above is the ESV and other translations use the words selfish ambition, selfishness, factional motives, and strife. The greek word there is eritheia and it means desire to put oneself forward, self-seeking, self-will and - get this - electioneering & seeking to win followers. Party-making is another word to describe its meaning. And I don't mean party as in "Woohoo - a fun social gathering", I mean party as in "attachment or devotion to one side or faction; partisanship". Remember above when I said that some translations say "factional motives"? That means self-interested and causing conflict within. Electioneering? That means to work for the success of a particular party or candidate, which, in this case, is self … self-interested (factional), remember?
OK … let's move on … the next word there is conceit. Others translate it as vainglory, vain conceit, empty conceit, and empty arrogance. I think that's a pretty self-explanatory word, but just for my own purposes I dug in a little deeper. The Greek word is kenodoxia and it comes from the Greek word kenodoxus which means glory without reason. That makes sense. Now the interesting thing for me is that word comes from 2 root words: kenos, which means empty, devoid of truth, hollowness, absence, and doxa, which means opinion, judgement, estimate, and, in the New Testament, good opinion, praise and worship. Do you get where I am going with this? It literally means to worship something that doesn't deserve it. I am not worthy of praise. I am not worthy of worship. In fact, I am devoid of those things. I am empty of anything worthy of worship. In me dwells no good thing apart from the Holy Spirit. My righteousness is filthy rags!! Yet here I am worshiping myself!
But there's more! If you'd read this far … thanks! Stay with me …
Humility. There's that word again. The verse says: … but in humility count others as more significant than yourselves. The word humility comes from the Greek word tapeinophrosyne which means lowliness of mind, humility of mind, humbleness of mind. OF MIND. Here we are back to thinking again! This Greek word comes from tapeinos and phren. Tapeinos means "not rising far from the ground" and phren means "the mind". So to me that's pretty straightforward. Thinking humbly …
What about counting others? Some translations say esteeming others, thinking of others, consider others, and regard one another. The Greek for count (or esteem, regard, consider) is hegeomai. It means to lead before the mind. There's that mind word again! Hmmm. There seems to be a pattern here!
And the last Greek word is erecho. It's translated better than, more important, more highly, and more significant. The Greek word erecho means to hold or have above, surpassing and higher. It comes from the words hyper, which means more than, abundantly, and echo, which means hold, have. I am very visual, so after reading that I imagine leading others before my mind and holding them up higher than myself.
2 Corinthians 10:5 says:
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ …I have not been doing that. I do not take every thought captive to Christ. Maybe a few, but I really just let my thoughts run rampant, going wherever they feel like going. Especially thoughts about me, myself and I. I have been electioneering for ME, I have been working for my own success, I have been self-interested. Yuck. Just like a politician! I have, quite literally, been worshipping myself, even though I know that nothing good dwells in me and only God deserves my worship and praise.