The Blessing of Self Forgetfulness
In John 1:27 John the Baptist said: “I am not worthy…” He didn’t suffer from low self-esteem. He just didn’t want the attention to be on him. He was exhibiting humility.
Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians, “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me, it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”
Like Paul, we can say, “I don’t care what you think. I don’t even care what I think. I only care about what the Lord thinks.” And he has said, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, and because you are in Christ these words are for you too—“You are my beloved child in whom I am well pleased”
When John the Baptist says “I am not worthy.” I think he is saying I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about myself and no one else should focus attention on me either. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Our natural inclination is to care too much what others think of us and even to care too much what we think of ourselves. As Christians, we should learn self-forgetfulness. As CS Lewis says, “Not thinking less of ourselves or more of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less.”
If as John says we say we are unworthy and focus instead on the Lamb of God who gives his righteousness to us then we are free from self-absorption, we can truly have the abundant life Jesus came to bring us.
Yours in Christ,
Canon Jim Fosdick