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A Life of God-centeredness is the Christian Life.
We are constantly bombarded by messages that tell us to prioritize our own interests and desires above all else. In today’s world, it is easy to fall into living a self-centered life. However, as Christians, we are called to live a life of God-centeredness – one that is focused on Him, His will, and His purpose for our lives.
It is important to distinguish between selfishness and self-centeredness. Selfishness is the act of putting oneself before others, while self-centeredness is the focus on oneself to the exclusion of others. While both can be, and usually are, detrimental to our relationships and well-being, only God-centeredness can purge both selfishness and self-centeredness.
The Bible warns us against self-centeredness in Philippians 2:3-4, which says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
It is easy to become consumed by selfishness and self-centeredness. Christians often fail to recognize the true purpose of our existence. However, the Bible and Puritan teachings offer a valuable solution to this problem – a life of God-centeredness.
We are commanded to love God with all our hearts, minds, and souls.
The Bible is filled with teachings about the importance of putting God at the center of our lives. In Proverbs 3:5-6, it says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
The Bible has much to say about selfishness and self-centeredness. In Philippians 2:3-4, we are instructed to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Similarly, in Romans 12:10, we are told to “be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. (Romans 14:8)
In Matthew 6:24, Jesus instructs us that “no one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Similarly, in 1 John 2:15-16, we are warned against loving the world and the things in it, as they are ultimately temporary and fleeting.
Similarly, in Matthew 6:33, Jesus says, “But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” This verse emphasizes the importance of making God the top priority in our lives, and promises that our needs will be taken care of as a result.
When we live a life that is centered around God, we recognize that our existence is not about ourselves. The Bible teaches us that selfishness is a sin and we were created to glorify God and serve others.
Learning from the Puritans.
The Puritans, who were known for their devotion to God and their strict moral code, recognized the danger of selfishness and self-centeredness, and stressed the importance of a God-centered life. They believed that only by surrendering our will to God and seeking to do His will can we overcome our natural inclination to sin and selfishness. As John Flavel, a Puritan minister, wrote, “The more any man studies to live unto God, the less he shall care for the applause of men.”
The Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards wrote, “The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted.” This is the ultimate goal of a God-centered life.
Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards also wrote, “Self-centeredness is that disposition or frame of mind, wherein a man makes his own private interests his rule and governing end in all his actions.” Jonathan Edwards, emphasized the importance of God-centeredness when he said, “The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.” Edwards recognized that true satisfaction and fulfillment can only be found in a life that is centered around God.
Puritan leader, Richard Baxter, echoed this sentiment when he said, “The way to heaven is ascending; we must be content to travel uphill, though it be hard and tiresome, and contrary to the natural bias of our flesh.” This uphill journey towards a God-centered life requires us to sacrifice our own desires and put the needs of others first.
Living a God-centered life requires sacrifice.
We must be willing to sacrifice our time, money, and efforts for the sake of others and for God’s Kingdom. However, it is important to note that not all sacrifices are created equal. We can sacrifice for a deeply self-centered cause, such as pursuing fame or success at the expense of others, or we can sacrifice for a God-centered cause, such as serving those in need or spreading the gospel.
Living a God-centered life requires a daily commitment to putting God first. This means actively seeking ways to serve and love those around us, even when it is inconvenient or uncomfortable. It means recognizing that our own desires and needs are not the most important thing in the world, and that true fulfillment and joy come from living a life that is centered on God and His purposes. God-centeredness is the antidote to both selfishness and self-centeredness. It requires sacrifice and a daily commitment.
Jesus said, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24).
A God-centered life is not an easy or comfortable life. It requires us to put aside our own desires and ambitions, and to seek God’s will in all things. It requires us to love our enemies, to forgive those who hurt us, and to serve those who are in need. It requires us to be humble, patient, and obedient to God’s commands.
When we live a God-centered life, we can still sacrifice our time, money, and efforts – but we do so in service to Him and His purposes. This is a deeply meaningful and fulfilling way to live.
A God-centered life is a life of joy, peace, and fulfillment. When we put God first in our lives, we grow in His mercy, love and grace, and we experience His presence and power. We also find that our relationships with others are transformed, as we become more loving, compassionate, and generous.
By putting God first and living in obedience to His Word, we can find true joy, purpose, and fulfillment. May we all strive to live a life that is focused on Him and His glory.