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Rick Warren opened his bestselling book, The Purpose Driven Life, with these words, “It’s not about you.” Warren was talking about purpose and mission in life. He’s right.

Since the beginning of summer, I’ve been preaching from the book of Proverbs. The last several weeks I’ve dealt with several convicting subjects according to the book of Proverbs: pride, words, and anger. You can listen to the podcasts of recent sermons by searching for Wilkesboro Baptist wherever you find podcasts or by visiting our podcast page here: https://www.wilkesborobaptist.org/podcasts.

That sentence, “It’s not about you” covers the basic truth behind the character and virtue that the book of Proverbs is attempting to teach us.

We live in a “have it your way” culture where advertising, marketing, and media are aimed at making your life more convenient or happier. Just observe the self-help section in a bookstore or watch carefully the next set of commercials on television. If you listen to the subtle (or not so subtle) messaging, then it is easy to think that everything is about us. If I want a new car, then I deserve one. If I want to fit in, then I must have the newest iPhone. If I want to have a happy lunch, then I’ll get it “my way.”

I don’t mean to pick on advertising and marketing so much. It is just an illustration of a far deeper problem with humanity.

Let’s just take the subjects of the last three sermons I preached: pride, words, and anger. The vice of pride tells us that everything is about us. And when our pride is damaged, we act out. Our words are not necessarily good or bad, but most often they are about us. It is so easy to get caught up in the I, me, mine culture where everything I communicate in spoken or written word is about me. Think social media. If you want a convicting exercise, look back through your social media feeds and reread your posts. How many of them are about you? How many times did you write, “I,” “me,” or “mine.” And then there is anger. Most of the time, my anger is caused by something or someone that doesn’t match my expectations. I get angry when “I’m” impatient, frustrated, disappointed, etc. Essentially, these three topics are symptomatic of self-absorbed thinking.

We need to tell ourselves over and over again, “It’s not about me.”

If it’s not about us, then what on earth are we here for? In short, we’re here as reflections of the Creator. God made us in his image, for his glory, to accomplish his purpose. God made us to make us like Jesus (Romans 8:29).

To put it one way, we exist to lead our neighbors and the nations to follow Jesus. At Wilkesboro Baptist, we do this by worshiping, learning, serving, and replicating. These steps are good reminders that life is not about us.

In worship, we focus our attention on the Lord who is worthy of our praise. In true worship, our preferences and desires take a back seat to the praise and glory of Jesus Christ.

In learning, we humble ourselves to be taught. As followers of Christ, we realize that we are on a journey to learn more about God, ourselves, our world, others, and our mission.

In serving, we put others first. Instead of being consumers of church culture, we are servants of others. We give our time, talents, and tithes as investments into the lives of others: be it people in our church, community, or across the world.

In replicating, we realize that the mission of making disciples is our priority. To replicate is to reproduce the life of Christ in someone else. We can’t replicate the life of Christ in someone else if the life of Christ is not the controlling presence in our own lives. And if we live each day as if it is about us, then we are actively working against the purpose of Christ in our own lives.

Is your life about you? If your behaviors, habits, and decisions say “Yes,” then maybe it’s time for some life analysis.

This message series has been convicting to me as well. Over the past several weeks, God has reminded me of ways where I have behaved as if my life is about me. May we learn to follow Christ and let the life of Christ live within us.

May Paul’s affirmation to the Galatians be true of us:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 

Galatians 2:2O

Photo by Ben Robbins on Unsplash

In the English language the word “god” is a general term for any deity. In English when we capitalize “God,” we are referring to a specific deity (most notably the Christian God). When we don’t capitalize “god,” we are referring to a god in general or a god who is not the God. Other languages also contain similar generic terms for deity.

El, Elohim, or Elyon is the general name for God in the Old Testament. This is the first name given to God in the Bible (Genesis 1:1). It carries the idea of being first, great, and worthy of fear. It is almost always in the plural form signifying fullness and power.

Adonai is used of God when reflecting his rule and Lordship. Adonai is used with Yahweh (below) to indicate LORD God.

El Shaddai signifies God’s power over nature and all things as well as his comfort and compassion to his people. Yahweh is the special name for God in the Old Testament. Its literal translation is “I AM WHO I AM.” While used throughout the Old Testament, Yahweh introduced himself publicly to Moses with this name in Exodus 3:14. Yahweh is the personal or covenant name for God. It is translated in our English Bibles as LORD in all capitals.

These are just a sample of the names, titles, and descriptions of God in the Old Testament. The importance of knowing God’s name cannot be overstated.

In religions in the ancient near east, knowing the name of a deity gave the adherent the rite to call upon or even control the deity. Being able to call upon or control a deity gave power to the follower of a particular religion. In this sense, knowing a name was like a talisman.

When Yahweh made his covenant name known to Moses, it was not like the other religions of the ancient near east. Knowing the name of God, Yahweh, does not give us control over him. The testimony of God’s works in the Bible make that obvious. Yahweh is in control, not us.

God is the Creator and giver of life. He sovereignly chose his people and redeemed them. And in the case of Moses at the burning bush, Yahweh called Moses and gave him an assignment impossible to fulfill. Moses was only successful because Yahweh accomplished the miraculous (the plagues on Egypt and rescuing the enslaved Israelites).

Often, during the Old Testament era, scribes and priests would not even speak the name of God, Yahweh, out of the fear that they would take his name in vain (Exodus 20:7). Instead, they would say “The Name,” in reference to God.

As we continue on this weekly theological journey, what can we learn from the Name of God, Yahweh, that will shape our faith? Here are several observations:

  • God, along with his titles and Name, should bring us a sense of reverence and awe. While I don’t necessarily think we need to avoid speaking the Name of God, we could learn a lesson from the Old Testament believers who held the Name of God in honor and reverence. We must avoid carelessly and idly using God’s name.
  • God’s Name should remind us that he’s in control, not that we can control him. The testimony of God’s work in the world and for his people in Scripture declares that he alone is in control. The LORD is not a genie in a bottle who responds to our wishes and whims. He’s not to be put on a shelf and pulled down when we need him. He is far more and far greater than we can imagine. We must submit to him.
  • God’s Name is an invitation to know him. This truth is one of the great privileges of biblical Christianity. God is greater and more glorious than we can imagine, yet he is personal and knowable. The covenant name, Yahweh, is an invitation to know and to call upon him. The LORD invites us to into a relationship with him. God knows you and everything about you. He knows your name and cares about your life. And he invites you to know him, talk to him, and be in a personal relationship with him. That is an unbelievable privilege.

So, take a moment today and praise the LORD. Thank him for his greatness. Call out to him in your need. He knows you and wants you to know him.