[i]by Zac Poonen[/i]
When Peter suggested the way of ease and comfort to Jesus, He rebuked Peter saying, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests but man's" (Matt. 16:23). When we set our mind on our own interests, we become a stumbling block to Jesus and to the kingdom of God. It is then, that Satan succeeds in leading us astray. The essence of salvation from sin is to be saved from "seeking our own". Lucifer sought his own, and sin came into the universe. Jesus never sought His own, and thus brought salvation. A righteousness that still leaves a man seeking his own, is a counterfeit righteousness. The secret source of all iniquity is the desire to seek our own. This is one of the most deceptive desires in our flesh.
The one thing that marks out a true man of God is not that he holds a particular doctrine - but rather that he does not seek his own. Paul says in Phil. 2:19-21 that most of his co-workers were still seeking their own, and that therefore he could not send them to Philippi. Timothy however was a glorious exception. Paul's co-workers had all their doctrines perfectly right, no doubt. Yet they sought their own. They may even have considered themselves righteous and spiritually superior to others around them. Yet Paul could see through the shallowness of their 'righteousness'. The same situation persists today. The one thing that all truly great men of God have had in common, through the centuries of Christian history, is this: that they did not seek their own. It is not the finer points of doctrine that made them men of God, but rather this one common factor - that they did not seek their own. Some may not have had as accurate an understanding of the truth as we have. But their spirituality lay in the fact that they selflessly sought the kingdom of God, according to the light that they had, in their day and generation.
We can look at all the sins of the flesh as the Philistines that stood with their captain Goliath against Israel. Goliath himself, however, is the giant of 'seeking our own'. If David had merely killed the Philistine soldiers one by one, there would have been no victory - or at best, a long drawn out one that may have taken many years. But we read that when David killed Goliath, all the other Philistines ran away (1 Sam. 17:51). This is the secret. We are to concentrate all our attack on the giant, 'seeking our own', if we are to win a real victory. Then the other sins will automatically be overcome.
Jesus came to lay the axe to the root of the tree. The fruits of the tree are many - lying, stealing, coveting, anger, bitterness, etc. The root of them all, however, is to seek one's own. Here is where the axe must be laid. Otherwise we shall be deceived. The apostle Paul could have settled down to a comfortable Christian life in Tarsus as a Christian businessman and lived a holy life. But he did not do that. His devotion to Christ compelled him so that he offered to the Lord that which cost him everything in this life.
Two hundred years ago, two of the Moravian brothers heard of a slave colony on an island in the West Indies and decided to sell themselves as slaves there for the rest of their lives, in order to preach the gospel to those slaves. Two others heard of a leper colony in Africa, where no one was allowed to enter and return, for fear that the disease might spread. They volunteered to go into that leper colony for the rest of their lives in order to present Christ to the inmates of that colony.I do not know the minute details of doctrine that these men believed. But they certainly did not seek their own and they certainly offered to the Lord that which cost them everything.
We should read and be challenged by biographies of men like Hudson Taylor, C. T. Studd, David Brainerd, William Carey, William Booth, Jim Elliot etc. The Holy Spirit has used the examples of many men in Heb. 11 and of Paul in 2 Cor. 11, to encourage our faith; and the examples of these modern day heroes also can challenge us out of our self-centred, family- centred, comfort loving, materialistic Christianity, into a life of devotion to Christ.
Let us then stop gloating over the little Philistines that we have slain here and there, while Goliath still stands tall and erect. The stone in our sling must be aimed at this giant: seeking our own. This is the one whose head we must cut off, if true victory is to be ours. The life of ours that Jesus told us to hate is this life that seeks its own (Jn. 12:25).
If we walk in the light and seek to discover the self- centredness that defiles most of our actions and decisions, and judge ourselves ruthlessly in those areas, then little by little we shall see this giant overcome and slain. Jesus once told Peter that he was expressing Satan's thoughts, soon after telling him about the building of the church (Matt. 16:18-23). The church that the gates of Hades cannot overcome is a church that is built on those who seek God's interests and not their own.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon