Sep 30, 2019 08:00am
The Kingdom of Self: 3 Ways to Conquer It

Why has it taken me so long to “get it”? It’s been 45 years, and I still don’t understand that it’s not about me.

One reason could be that I’m hard headed. I don’t see it in myself (no surprise), but I should at least consider that stubbornness is a big reason.

Another reason for stinkin’ thinkin’ could be my pride. My what-will-people-think-of-me concerns point straight back to myself and my selfish ways.

Finally, I guess the reason is just plain old sin. Yep, it’s an ugly word, but that’s what sin is – ugly. “U, G, L, Y, you ain’t got no alibi” kind of ugly. And it causes me to forget that I’m a sinner saved by grace.

Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life begins with the words, “It’s not about you.” Designed as a forty-day spiritual journey, Warren says to Christians that personal fulfillment is not about self but understanding and doing what God placed us on earth to do. The human desires of the world are replaced by a life lived desiring God alone.

But still, every day I try to build my own little kingdom, the kingdom of self.

Forty-five years ago, I was saved and baptized. As young as I was, I knew that I wanted what those people at my church had. I still can’t even explain it, but they had a love and peace that showed on their faces and through their actions. 

They all had the same thing: grace-filled lives devoted to their Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s what drew me to him in the first place and it should make me fall down on my knees in shame and humility, but I don’t. Instead I stand on my little piece of earth focused on myself.

But it’s not about me. 

Grace is the most radical concept the world has ever known, because the personification of grace, Jesus Christ, lived, died and resurrected during his 33 short years on this earth.

It’s about Jesus..

And speaking of radical, his life, his teachings and his commission were just a few of the things that began a movement called Christianity that would profoundly change the world forever. 

How could I possibly forget to submit to such radical grace?

In his book New Morning Mercies, Paul David Tripp says, “Since we have been bought by the blood of Jesus, our lives don’t belong to us anymore. They are his possession for his use. This means that our life is ministry and ministry is our life. . . . The greatest honor of my life is that I have been chosen to be both a recipient and an instrument. This has given my life deeper meaning than anything I could have discovered on my own. This is what grace alone can do.”

Forty-two years of being a Christian, and I am still learning about Jesus and his grace. I can never DO anything on my own except to make all my DOINGS, my whole life, about participating in God’s plan and ministry.

So, going back to Tripp’s quote about grace, here are three things I resolve to do because I am a recipient of it:

#1 –  “ . . . bought by the blood of Jesus, our lives don’t belong to us anymore.”

I will put my life, my stubbornness, and my sin nature into the hands of Jesus so his kingdom is built and his will is done in my heart. Oh sure, I’ll try to dig for the footing, pour some concrete and frame up my own kingdom again. But when the inevitable happens, I’ll fall submissively to my knees and tear down the walls myself in surrender to his will. 

#2 –  “The greatest honor of my life is that I have been chosen to be both a recipient and an instrument.

I will make ministry my life and know that it is an honor to be part of his kingdom work. Also, since I’m a huge failure when I take control of my own life, I will give every part of myself to be his instrument in the ministry and work of Jesus Christ.

#3 – “This is what grace alone can do.”

I will fill myself with the radically life-changing, veil-tearing, ground-shaking grace that Jesus alone offers freely to mankind. When I turn away from that beautiful veil and think I’m on firm ground by my own devices, I will, once again, fall down in submission to Jesus, the giver of grace.  

More than four decades ago, grace drew me to Jesus, and grace draws me back to him when I forget the following: 

  • Because of grace I should give up my life to serve him, not grudgingly, but with joy because it’s my reasonable act of worship (Romans 12: 1).
  • Because of grace I should not conform to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by a renewed mind focused on being inside his will (Romans 12:2). 
  • Because of grace I will not think more highly of myself than I should, but think of myself with sober judgment (Romans 12:3).

Here is my prayer:

“Lord, you are the all-knowing, self-existent, unchangeable God, and I am not. Forgive my stubbornness, pride and sin. In every moment of every day, help me to remember that I bear your image. 

Fill me with awe of your grace in such a profound way that I fall down in worship in each of those moments. 

As your image-bearer, Lord, give me the appropriate humility by which I will serve you and love others like you do.

Tear down those kingdoms of self that I try to build every day, and, instead, empower me to be a vessel of your grace that will draw people to You. Amen.”

Copyright © 2019 by Holly Meriweather. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from