So what does the radically changed heart look like in real life? It is not simply a matter of good moral behaviour. It is quite possible to do all sorts of morally virtuous things when our hearts are filled with fear, pride or a desire for recognition. The Pharisees were moralistic people but Jesus rebuked them, "these people honour me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God" (Matthew 15 verses 8-9). We are talking about hearts that have been changed at the very root by the grace of God.
Keller offers an explanation of what a changed heart should look like in 1 Corinthians 4 verses 3-5; "I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts."
At first glance, this passage seems to teach us not to judge others, but there is more to it than meets the eye.
Up until 20th century, most traditional cultures believed that too high a view of ourselves was the root cause of all evil. But in our modern Western culture, we have developed a completely opposite cultural norm. We often believe that people misbehave for lack of self-esteem, a too low a view of themselves. But is this really true? Whether it be the high self-esteem or the low self-esteem induced misbehaviour, we often fail to address the root cause of the issue. Instead, we simply punish them or just build them up!
Paul is saying something astounding in the passage, "I don't care what you think and I don't even care what I think. I only care about what God thinks." In other words, Paul will not be judged by others, but neither will he judge himself. It is only the Lord that judges.
If we are not to think too highly or too lowly of ourselves, then how are we to think of ourselves? We are to be 'self-forgetful'. Keller explains:
"A truly Gospel-humble person is not a self-hating person or a self-loving person, but a Gospel-loving person. The truly Gospel-humble person is a self-forgetful person whose ego is just like his or her toes. It does not draw attention to itself. The toes just work; the ego just works. Neither draws attention to itself."
The true Gospel humility is blessed self-forgetfulness – not thinking more of myself as in modern cultures, or less of myself as in traditional cultures but simply thinking about myself less and focusing on being a blessing to others. A heart that is open to Christ will be open to those He loves.
"The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness" was truly a joy to read as well as a reality check for true Christian living in the self-absorbed culture of this day.
Many people's decisions in life are a combination of their habitual responses and their desire to please themselves or others. What about you? Is pleasing God above all else?
"Humble people don't think less of themselves. They just think of themselves less." - Norman Vincent Peale.
Daniel Jang from Newcastle, New South Wales has served with (Operation Mobilisation) OM's ship - Logos Hope in 2012.
Daniel Jang's previous articles may be veiwed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/daniel-jang.html