The Judge focuses the attention of the entire courtroom on the jury box; has the jury reached a verdict? The chairperson raises from his chair yes Your Honor we have. We the jury find the defendant…….. Many hours of hard work and investigation have led to this moment of anticipation. What will the verdict be?
Have you ever wondered what might be at the heart ofmany of our problems? The answer might surprise. You may recall the biblical story of Adam and Eve. In the story, a serpent appealed to Eve’s pride. God is not treating you fairly the serpent (Satan) told her. Her pride said to her; you deserve more and possessing more will make you happy. Pride was at the root of man’s first problem.
Another word for pride is ego. In 1 Corinthians 3:21 – 4:7 Paul addresses the root of the problem the Christians had in the city of Corinth located in Asia Minor. The root of their problems was pride and boasting.
We can learn much from Paul’s teaching about prideand the human ego. Paul compares the human ego to a physical organ in the body. Normally functioning parts of the human body garner little attention yet contribute greatly to its’ overall well being and welfare.
When a part of the body becomes injured ordysfunctional, the entire body’s attention is drawn to it. The body becomes focused on doing whatever is necessary tomeet the needs of its’ injured member. The need to satisfy the injured member takes precedence over everything else.
The human ego is intangible, yet no organ impacts theperson more. Paul gives a good description in 1 Corinthians 4:6 of man’s ego as inflated with much air pumped into it. It is swollen, inflamed, bigger than it should be, and ready to burst.
This dysfunctional organ called ego dominates the focus of the entire person. The human mind, body, and spirit marshal all of its resources in an effort to appease the needs of the ego. The ego’s requirements are ever demanding and never fully achievable.
Timothy Keller in his book The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness does a great job of describing the conditionof the human ego. Notice three characteristics present in the human ego.
First, the human ego is empty. It is overinflated with nothing at its core. Soren Kierkegaard’s book Sickness unto Death says it well; it is the normal state of the human heart to try to build its own identity around something besides God. The human ego searches for self-worth, sense of purpose and feeling special.
Man’s ego deceives him with illusions that without God he is competent to run his own life, achieve self-worth and find purpose big enough to give life meaning. King Solomon understood this well. Vanity of vanities; all isvanity he said in Ecclesiastes 1:2. He enjoyed the high position as king of Israel, great possessions, and any pleasure the world had to offer. He understood throughpersonal experience that man’s ego is hollow and empty and can never be fully satisfied. Whatever we try to put in God’s place can never be enough. It will always be too small.
The second characteristic of man’s ego is that it is painful. It produces pain because there’s something seriously wrong with it. Man’s ego produces reoccurring, ongoing, daily pain. It draws attention to itself every day.
Man’s ego hurts because it’s never completely happy. It is constantly drawing attention to itself. It always makes us think about how we look, what other people are thinking about us and how we are being treated. Our feelings get hurt. Well, it’s impossible for feelings to hurt. It is our egos that get hurt because our identity and our sense of self-worth are hurting. It is difficult to make it through a single day without feeling ignored, snubbed, failing to measure up, wondering what others are thinking about us or getting down on ourselves.
There’s something wrong with my identity. There is something wrong with my sense of self-worth. All of this causes me pain. There’s something wrong with me and that something is my ego.
A third characteristic of ego is that it is very busy. Ego stays incredibly busy trying to fill its emptiness and soothe its pain. Paul gives insight into how ego seeks to remedy this pain and emptiness. He reminds us in first Corinthians 4:6 not to take pride in one person over the other. Man’s ego tries to fill the emptiness by comparingand boasting.
The empty, painful, inward, ego-self requires validation. It seeks to secure validation by constantly comparing itself to others. Short-lived temporary relief comes but never lasts long. C. S. Lewis in his chapter on pride in Mere Christianity gets it right when he states Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next person.
We are proud of our wealth, positions in life, good looks, talents and etc. We are proud because we have more wealth, a higher position, better looks and more talent whencomparing ourselves to others. The empty ego is restocked and the painful need for self-worth, reassurance and value has temporarily been reaffirmed.
This nourished ego quickly becomes hungry againwhen we come in contact with others who are wealthier, hold higher positions, are better looking or who may be more talented. All pleasure taken in what we had quickly vanishes because in reality we had no pleasure in them at all. Our egos are extremely busy comparing and measuring others to ourselves hoping to find us better than them. We are desperately trying to bolster our self-esteem, in an effort to fill the emptiness and soothe the pain of inadequacy. Pride is the pleasure of having and being more than the next person! How do we fill the void and eliminate the pain of our inflated egos? By seeking the approval of others? By accepting ourselves? Neither of these works because meeting the standards of others or own personal standards requires perfection. Therein is the problem. We are fallible and perfection is beyond our reach.
Paul tells the Corinthians that he is not concerned with what they think of him neither is he concerned what he thinks of himself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent he says. The Greek word for innocentcomes from the word justify. This is the same word Paul uses throughout Romans and Galatians. Paul is making the point that justification is beyond his own efforts.
Our empty overinflated ego has it backwards. It requires us to perform a never-ending search for validationseeking the verdict that we are important and valuable.
The verdict is in. God has pronounced us valuable and important. The court of heaven has vindicated us. We have been declared innocent, important, and valuable. The one who judges us is the one who vindicated us. Now we perform because of the verdict rather than seeking it. Jesus loves and accepts us because we are more valuable to himthan the wealth of the whole world.
Our value and self-worth should not depend on havingmore money than others, looking as good as somebody else, feeling good enough and etc. We should not devalue our self-worth because we are left out, looked over, or look down upon.
The verdict is in. It’s time to embrace the verdict andseize our identity, value, importance, and self-worth. We are children of a God who created us, knows us, loves us and we are important to him. Let’s live our lives accordingly!