Great Book!

How often do you think about your big toe? Probably not too often. But when I broke mine, I thought about it a lot—how to make it comfortable, how far I could walk before its complaining became unbearable, what areas I could negotiate with the crutches it required. And because I had this broken toe while playing the tourist in Washington, D.C., it even affected my ability to enjoy all the interesting and beautiful sights around me.

Freedom of Self-ForgetfulnessIn The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Timothy Keller says that egos are like toes. If they’re healthy, you don’t have to think about them. On the other hand, if you’re always thinking about your ego, that’s because it’s sick.

A sick ego asks questions like: What do people think of me? What do I think of me? How can I become famous/important/powerful? Have I proved my worth as a person yet? In other words, the sick ego has you constantly occupying the defendant’s chair in a courtroom, awaiting the next verdict. (Great! My verdict was “good person” last week … but am I still worthy of that judgment today?) It doesn’t matter how much you feed, pet, and praise a sick ego, it always wants more. (I have a dog like that.)

In this book, which is a study of Paul’s ego as revealed in I Corinthians 3:21-4:7, Keller says that the cure for a sick ego is self-forgetfulness. This is one of the many blessings of truly understanding the gospel, because the gospel tells us that the final verdict is already in.

God, looking upon Christ’s work for us, pronounces us “worthy”—worthy of His love; worthy of His pardon; worthy of His blessings. Therefore, my identity, my self-esteem, is no longer connected to what I do, but to what Christ does. And Christ thought I was important enough to die for.

When we truly internalize this truth, we’re out of that cruel courtroom forever. And then we can enjoy the people and things around us without being distracted by our sick egos.

The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less. (p. 32)

I really enjoyed The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller. It contains some important ideas, and the language is easy to follow. Oh, and it’s short—46 small pages of large type! You might even manage that on your lunch break!

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