Gospel Humility and Self-Forgetfulness

1 Corinthians 4:3-4 "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."

The truth about Christians: It is quite possible for Christians to do all sorts of morally virtuous "biblical" things, such as serving God faithfully and sacrificially in church, when our hearts might still be filled with pride, fear, or a desire for power, control, praise, honor and recognition.

Key Question(s):
  • What are the marks of a heart that has been radically changed by the grace of God?
  • What are the marks of a supernaturally changed heart?
  • If we trust in Jesus, what should our hearts--changed at the root by the grace of God--look like in real life?
These thoughts are based on Tim Keller's excellent small book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, which I blogged about: Pride and Ego. The audio is Blessed Self-Forgetfulness. Arrogance (1 Cor 4:6, 18) is indeed the root cause of division in the church. This is why Paul pleads, "...no more boasting about human leaders!" (1 Cor 3:21)

Questions for reflection:
  1. Are you easily hurt by others? Affected by their opinion of you? Are you still trying to prove something to yourself and to others?
  2. What is your self-identity based on? Is it based on how you are perceived by others?
  3. Are you trying to validate yourself and your life by your accomplishments and achievements? Your ministry? Your family? Your career? Your children? By how much you think others recognize you, honor you or respect you?
  4. Consider Madonna's words: "...even though I have become somebody, I still have to prove that I am somebody. My struggle has never ended and I guess it never will." What can you learn from her about the human heart?
  5. Read Psalm 139:23-24. Ask God to show you your heart, to show you the places you look for self-worth and the ways you try to find your sense of identity.
  6. How would you explain to someone else about how the gospel can (and should) transform (y)our sense of identity? What transformed sense of identity have you experienced? Does this need for transformation challenge you? Encourage you?
  7. Has God given you what you need to enable you to develop true gospel-humility and the freedom of self-forgetfulness?
Questions from 1 Cor 3:21-4:7:
  1. What was causing divisions in the church at Corinth (1 Cor 1:12; 3:4, 20-21; 4:6-7)?
  2. Instead of elevating church leaders, how should the church regard them (1 Cor 4:1-2)?
  3. Like Paul, can you be unaffected by the opinion (verdict) of others? Yourself (1 Cor 4:3)?
  4. How can a Christian be truly free from the judgment of others (1 Cor 4:4-5)?
  5. What can we learn from Paul's personal application (1 Cor 4:6-7)?
Keller on The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness: A little more elaboration of the book.