I had a race last year that went horribly wrong. I had personal goals set and met only one, I finished. I was dissapointed and depressed after the race. In fact in my time running I've had many moments of self love and promotion, and moments I'm not proud of. I'm running the same race again this year, but I've let go of those ambitions and pie in the sky ideas. This time I'm running for what really matters. Not for time, not for speed, not for fun, but for Him. I'm praying specifically that there is someone out there on that course that needs to talk to me about Jesus and that I will find them and take that moment.
But back to the issue of Self Promotion being a sin. Anything that takes away from God's glory and adds to ours is being sinful. We are not greater than God so lifting ourselves up as such would go against Him. As I was searching through my bible for a friend this morning I came across a devotional that was titled the same as this blog. It said,
"As Americans, competition and rivalry seem to be in our blood. We are taught from early childhood that we must be better than others. We strive for recognition and prestige and tend to focus solely on ourselves. James and John would have fit well into our society. They sought the ultimate recognition- to sit at the right and left hand of Jesus in the kingdom"
But to that Jesus stated, " Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant." (Mark 10:43)
Paul later goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 9:19
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
How is it then that we can run a race to boost our own self esteem and run it for Him? We can't. No one can serve two masters, he will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. (Matthew 6:24) A servant/slave knows they are not the most important person and therefore they behave in response to that. And being a slave is by no means comparable to the American term of being a slave, in this instance. I believe if all "slaves" were to receive the reward waiting for us they would be joyful in their work. Giving up our own interests to serve God is not going to be easy, but the prize is what is worth striving for.
"We must always ask ourselves wether we are working to please God or to satisfy our own need for achieving results."
It's going to be hard to flip that switch that is so ingrained into us. But, as with all things, through prayer and petition, the Lord will refine in us a being of unselfishness. He will present us with trials that will prune away those unfruitful branches that cause us to stumble and not grow. We must always be aware that we are here to serve and not to be served. Anything short of that and we have fallen into sin's snare and need to ask for forgiveness, get back up and try again. We are entitled to nothing and we live not for what's in this world, but for the world that's coming next.
To close, I'll leave you with one of my favorite verses, because if you're like me your attention peaks when running is mentioned in the bible. :)
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25