The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
What are the marks of a supernaturally changed heart?
This is one of the questions the Apostle Paul addresses as he writes to the church in Corinth. He's not after some superficial outward tinkering, but instead a deep rooted, life altering change that takes place on the inside. In an age where pleasing people, puffing up your ego and building your résumé are seen as the methods to "make it", the Apostle Paul calls us to find true rest in blessed self forgetfulness.
In this short and punchy book, best selling author Timothy Keller, shows that gospel humility means we can stop connecting every experience, every conversation with ourselves and can thus be free from self condemnation. A truly gospel humble person is not a self-hating person or a self-loving person, but a self-forgetful person.
This freedom can be yours...
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|Listening Length||54 minutes|
|Audible.com Release Date||April 08, 2022|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #11,804 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#15 in Christian Discipleship (Audible Books & Originals)
#130 in Christian Discipleship (Books)
#217 in Christian Spiritual Growth (Audible Books & Originals)
Reviewed in the United States on June 29, 2020
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The message is powerful because of its simplicity. The natural condition of our ego is one of pride. Keller distills for us what Paul meant in Corinthians when he used the specific word physioo for pride. He shows us that as people we are empty, painful, busy and fragile. Whether we admit it or not we all care to varying degrees what people think of us. Paul offers us a radically different approach in his letter to the Corinthians. Paul doesn’t care what the people of Corinth think, or any people for that matter and he doesn’t even care to judge himself. As Keller says, “Paul is saying that he has reached a place where his ego draws no more attention to itself than any other part of his body.”
In the modern world there is a lot of talk about self-esteem and self-help and your personal truth and at the other end of the spectrum there is thinking a little too much of yourself. Paul is giving us something radically different and Keller describes this as a person with gospel-humility, the essence of which is, “not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.” Keller goes on, “True gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation with myself. In fact, I stop thinking about myself. The freedom of self-forgetfulness. The blessed rest that only self-forgetfulness brings.”
But how do we get to this blessed state of rest? It definitely feels like we live in a “me-first” culture. We are surrounded by tireless self-promoters and performers of every stripe looking to be praised and lauded for what seems like very superficial things like the way you look or who you associate with. This is a problem that is exacerbated by social media where so many are trying to project an image that is essentially false. This is because we are all looking for “an ultimate verdict that we are important and valuable.” We are all trying to prove this, day in and day out, and it’s exhausting. But Paul tells us that we need to remember that ultimate verdict is already in. There is no need to perform to get there because in Christianity we already have the verdict in Jesus Christ. It also means that the equation is reversed – in Christianity, the verdict leads to performance. We are loved and counted and more valuable than rare jewels. Knowing this simple truth frees us from pursuing the verdict, it frees us from self, it gives us the freedom of self-forgetfulness.
Reading Keller’s distillation of Paul’s radical words I was reminded again why Rod Dreher’s book, “The Benedict Option,” is so important. Dreher posits that liquid modernity is a threat to Christianity and that the church needs to undertake a strategic retreat from modern forces to remain strong. Looking at the world through Paul’s lens on ego, this seems more important than ever. The modern world sends us so many wrong messages about consumerism, freedom, materialism and self-governance. As I look around I see people jumping, jumping trying to bounce above the crowd to be noticed. Me. Me. Me. How very different the world would look without all the clamoring to put “me” first. Paul gives us a way to get there.
This message brings freedom. Now just reading the book will not make it happen. The book inspired us to believe that we have been already accepted and we don't need to compare ourselves to others to feel valuable. Competition is not needed when we are self-forgetful. We live for Jesus alone and the byproduct is to love others without fearing rejection or seeking human approval. I have read it twice and will read it again.
"Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.
Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. 7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?"
-- 1 Corinthians 3:21-4:7New King James Version (NKJV)
From this text Keller expounds on the biblical truth that we are only truly free when freed from the tyranny of how we assess and value we ourselves, as well as others do. While this truth is simple in concept it's far more complex in practice because it requires dying to self and living for God just as Christ said:
"I tell you truly that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains a single grain of wheat; but if it does, it brings a good harvest. The man who loves his own life will destroy it, and the man who hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. If a man wants to enter my service, he must follow my way; and where I am, my servant will also be. And my Father will honour every man who enters my service."
-- John 12:24-26 (JB Phillips)
I have heard this message in many ways over the years but never like this. And, I dare say, that as many times as I've been blessed to hear it I have yet to apply in a way that's truly freeing in the way described in this fine book. As I listened (I "read" the audiobook edition) I was gently prodded and convicted over how far I still have to go. It was quite impacting and most certainly the beginning of many conversations and much reflection regarding the "How to" part.
Though it's a cliche' I really DO think that this is a book that every Christian should read. I give it my highest recommendation.
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The first chapter lays out our issue: We think too much about our own self-esteem - too much and we're selfish or proud, too little and we're miserable.
The second chapter lays out a Christian response.
The third chapter actually tells you how to have that freedom. Essentially it boils down to CS Lewis' suggestion that self-forgetfulness is not thinking less of ourselves (self-deprecation) but thinking of ourselves less. Instead, we should be thinking more of Christ. Its not about our self-esteem, but how much do we esteem Him.
Some issues though:
The whole work reads as a good published sermon. This isn't a bad thing, but he often refers to verses, yet the passage he's preaching from (contained at the front) doesn't have verse numbers. Without a Bible handy, its sometimes hard to follow.
Secondly, its almost like he spends too much time building up to the solution of "How might I achieve such self-forgetfulness?". Its a good book, but I wish he'd have gotten to this part sooner and expanded it, rather than spend so much time on the first 2 chapters. I was reading them thinking "Yep, gotya, I agree... now what?".
Nonetheless, I would definitely reccomend this 'book' to those who are struggling with pride or low self esteem, as well as those who want to know more about what it's like to truly be humble in the Biblical way. Timothy Keller provides great insight into how the Bible deals with such issues.
The only reason why I won't give this a 5 star rating is because I feel like the book could have been much longer so that Timothy Keller could have elaborated on his main points in more detail. I watch a lot of Keller's sermons, and I feel like the content of this book mirrored one of the sermons I watched, and funnily enough, Keller went into much more detail about the topics in the sermon compared to this book!
Yet despite that, I would still reccomend this book. Timothy Keller is one of my favourite pastors/authors, he has so much wisdom and his take on certain passages of scripture is so refreshing. He also provides ways to for practical application which is so crucial for the Christian walk.
So to sum up, this book is really short and not much detailed (which is a great shame). But I still reccomend it because it provides great insight to the topic which can be of great help to those struggling with pride and low self esteem.