Cancer of the Ego
How’s your ego? If it’s “puffed up” (a common malady these days both in the church as well as In the world at large), here’s an article that will duly puncture an Inflated ego and put it in Its proper place.
Mr. Mike Hamel of Denver, Colorado, is a past contributor to Focus, having recently concluded a brief series of studies on Jonah.
WARNING! Egotism is hazardous to your spiritual health.
The most sensitive nerves in the human body are those connected to the ego. This vital organ, located in the back between the shoulder blades, thrives on attention. A pat on the back penetrates to the ego in less than a nanosecond, then effuses as a warm glow throughout the body. Conversely, a cold chill shivers through us whenever this nerve center suffers neglect.
But overstimulation of the ego can cause inflamation, or, even worse, cancer! Cancer is a malignancy of potentially unlimited growth which invades and destroys healthy tissue. In biblical nomenclature, cancer of the ego is known as pride.
Pride, even in it’s incipient stage, produces a marked distortion of one’s countenance. The head begins to swell. The muscles in the back of the neck stiffen, tilting the nose upward and the chin outward. The ears become hypersensitive to the mention of one’s own name, but strangely insensitive to reproof or warning. The eyes turn inward until they can only see each other. The objective nerves in the brain become dull and soon atrophy. The enlarged ego crowds God out of the center and into the corners of the heart.
Christians aren’t immune to this malady. Even the most dedicated believer is vulnerable at times to egotism; the practice of talking about oneself too much. In fact, the more a man or woman is used of the Lord, the greater the danger of contracting the disease of the swollen “I”.
As believers we are God’s workmanship, His poem.1 Our lives unfold as a continuous narrative of the redemptive grace of God, told one stanza at a time. However, we often draw attention to and praise the poem while ignoring the Author, which is ludicrous! Poems don’t write themselves! Great works of art don’t paint themselves! And there’s no such thing as a “self-made” saint, although we frequently take the bows for what’s going on in our lives.
And when God graciously moves through us to bless others, we like to remind the brethren that we were the channel He used. If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, shouldn’t men acknowledge and admire my spiritual acumen? If I put into print the things God has taught me, shouldn’t my picture grace the back cover along with an extensive listing of my academic and spiritual accomplishments?
Absolutely not! “…what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”2
Besides, this sort of self-promotion leads to some real dilemmas. How can you pat yourself on the back and point men to Calvary at the same time? How can you sing the praises of the Saviour while you’re blowing your own horn? It’s impossible to exalt yourself and walk with the One Who is meek and lowly.
We have been commissioned as ambassadors of Christ.3 Everything in life must be subjugated to His cause, including our innate desire to be praised by our peers. His banner is the cross. We can’t effectively preach the glories of the cross to others unless we are willing to deny ourselves and take up that cross daily.4
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not encouraging self-abnegation. Although we’re far from perfect, God has promised to complete the good work He’s begun in us.5 If we look at ourselves from God’s perspective, we’ll have a positive self image that won’t degenerate into selfism.
Neither am I preaching mediocrity. If you’re content to be ordinary, you know little of the zeal of the Lord or the constraining love of Christ.
As Christians, we should advance through every open door seeking to make an impact for God, not a name for ourselves. We should make our lives count for eternity, but be content to let God keep our scorecard. Statistics can be a very dangerous carcinogen.
Let’s keep our hand to the plow and wait until we get to heaven to worry about the plaudits. We’ll be a lot more healthy now and a lot less embarrassed later at the Judgment Seat of Christ.6
Quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible.
1 Ephesians 2:10 (Greek)
2 1 Corinthians 4:7
3 2 Corinthians 5:20
4 Luke 9:23, 24
5 Philippians 1:6; 2:13
6 1 Corinthians 3:10-15