Yesterday I read a very short book by Timothy Keller called “The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness“. In it Keller says that high self-esteem and low self-esteem are basically the same. In both cases your ego is drawing too much attention to itself, like any other hurting body part.
I can relate to this. When I’m criticized I immediately feel defensive and try to justify my actions or I act like I don’t care what the other person thinks. I’m always trying to prove my worth and justify myself. Keller describes this as putting ourselves in the courtroom.
As a Christian this is completely unnecessary. I don’t need to be in the courtroom because the trial is over.
“In Christianity, the moment we believe, God imputes Christ’s perfect performance to us as if it were our own, and adopts us into His family.”
Since I’m not on trial there is no need for me to be constantly evaluating my performance. I can listen to criticism and learn from it. I can focus on other people. I can enjoy what life has to offer for its own sake, without thinking about how things relate to me. This is the blessed rest of self-forgetfulness.
I’m thankful for the note that Keller includes at the end of his book. I often wonder why it’s so hard for me to live this truth in my daily life.
“But maybe you are in a different position – you believe the gospel; maybe you have done so for years. But… and it is a big ‘but’… every day you find yourself being sucked back into the courtroom… All I can tell you is that we have to re-live the gospel every time we pray. We have to re-live it every time we go to church. We have to re-live the gospel on the spot and ask ourselves what we are doing in the courtroom. We should not be there. The court is adjourned.”
It’s much harder than it seems to let go of ourselves. But it’s the only way to experience Sabbath rest. It’s the only way to find freedom. It’s the only way to truly experience the love of Christ.