Standing Up

standingYou’ve got to stand up for your rights!!!

Indulge yourself. You deserve it.

Never settle for less than you deserve.

Always stand up for yourself. . . . No one in this world is more important than you are.

Don’t let anyone stand in the way of your happiness.

If you don’t stand up for yourself, who will?

Be yourself: . . . think your thoughts, indulge your tastes, follow your inclinations, behave in ways that you decide are to your liking.

Those are some quotes I gathered in about ten minutes of googling things like “what I deserve,” “stand up for yourself,” and “indulge yourself.” They are a perfect snapshot of the way our culture and our flesh look at self. They are a lie from Satan.

We fall into a terribly seductive trap when we start to seek our own rights, what we deserve. But I hear people all the time– believers– encouraging one another to “stand up for yourself” and “not take anything from anyone.” I hear things like, “You have to do what’s right for you,” and “You deserve to be happy.”

I have told myself these lies, told them to others, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are lies. I know they are lies because they are opposed to truth.

How I wish they were true! How I wish I could indulge my flesh and tell myself that I deserve it! How I wish that God’s greatest purpose for me were to make me happy! How I wish that I did deserve good things. I don’t. You don’t either.

Friends, if we are going to truly live as Christ lived, we have to give up this idea that we deserve anything besides eternal punishment in hell. We have to give up the idea that we have a right to freedom, to happiness, to self-indulgence, to put ourselves first.

This is so hard to write. It goes against everything our culture says. But this is what God’s Word says:

 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus . . .

The mind– the attitude we are commanded to have is the attitude that Jesus demonstrated while He was on earth.

. . . who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped . . .

“He was in the form of God” means that He was God in His inward nature. But He did not greedily clutch His rights as God! He did not cling tightly to the things He deserved because He was the holy, eternal, omnipotent, glorious Lord of all eternity.

. . . but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Jesus Christ gave up all the splendors of heaven, all the worship of the angels, all the perfect holy beauty of eternity. And He didn’t just do that. He came as a servant. A slave.

 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

You want to talk about rights? About what we deserve? About our personal happiness and its great importance over all else?

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Friends, this is the attitude we are called to have– the attitude of God Himself made flesh, surrounded by darkness, serving sinners and outcasts, giving up not only glory and beauty and eternity but life itself and His precious fellowship with the Father.

You know who deserves everything He wants? Jesus Christ. You know who doesn’t? You and me. In fact, our sinful hearts have earned us one thing– death.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Death– exactly what Jesus experienced in our place, so that we might have life.

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

Every time I demand my rights– every time I indulge my flesh under the pretense of this being “something I deserve”– I spit in the face of the Savior who endured the cross, scorning its shame, for me.

Here is the teaching of Jesus about my right to be angry:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

My right to revenge:

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

My right to cling to my own plans and belongings:

And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

My right to hate others:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

My right to be recognized for my good deeds:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

My right to earthly treasures:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

My right to worry about my physical needs:

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For . . . your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

My right to pass judgment on others:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

My right to life itself:

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

In fact, as far as I can tell, the only rights we are really supposed to be concerned about are the rights of others

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

God’s requirement of us is to do justice, not to seek it for ourselves.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Love– the greatest of all of Christ’s commands– is characterized by selflessness, not by self-seeking.

[Love] does not insist on its own way.

All through Scripture, the teaching is this– God’s people are to be humble and generous, and when they seek justice it is to be for those least likely to obtain it– orphans and widows, the oppressed, the poor, the weak.

How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

This is what James calls pure and holy religion–

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

take up cross.jpgFriends, I’m going to be honest. I find myself daily buying into the lies of the world that I deserve this, that I should be seeking what is best for myself. I might do good things, but they are so often from a desire to make myself feel good or look good in the eyes of others. And as hard as it is to admit to myself, this is sin. This draws me away from the best that God has for me– serving others as Christ did, humbly, with no expectation of recognition or reward.

I want to make it clear that there are situations where self-defense, leaving abuse, or making clear boundaries are absolutely necessary. But I think that for must of us, most of the time, when we are standing up for our “rights” we are in truth selfishly pressing for our own comfort, our own affirmation, our own ego, our own personal belongings. When we indulge in what we desire because we “deserve” it, we are merely making an excuse to sin. And none of those things are godly. They are a far cry from the life of self-denial we are called to.

 I have been crucified with Christ.

When we seek nothing but our own rights, we miss out on so much that God is waiting to offer us when we turn to Him alone for all our needs. When we do that– when we truly allow our precious flesh to be crucified with Him, we experience the satisfaction of our God.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Oh, friends, today, let us seek not to stand up for our own rights, but to stand against the enemy. Let us stand strong against sin and injustice for those who are needy, even as we lay our own lives down. And let us learn from experience that the steadfast love of God that meets us in our death to self is far sweeter and more precious than anything we can imagine.

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

 

 

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One thought on “Standing Up

  1. Wow and Ouch! This so goes against my natural inclinations – even the good stuff I do out of good motives, I still want a pat on the back for it. (embarrassed to admit that but it’s the truth!). Thanks for speaking truth. I think I’ll remember my steel toed boots when I read your blog from now on because this stomped all over my toes (in a good way!) 🙂

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