Indeed, in that context, I have hardly any agreement.
But I do think giving ourselves sufficient attention (in a Biblical sense) is lacking at times - at least in my own life I can personally testify to that. But what does that mean?
Could you really learn to love Jesus more by focusing on yourself?
What is a Biblical reason to give more attention to myself - for all of us to give more attention to ourselves?
Obviously I don't mean give ourselves attention like in the picture above. That's the very antithesis of the Christian call to humility and (no matter how good looking we are ;) to considering others more significant than ourselves (Phil. 2:3ff).
Concerning the attention we ought to give ourselves, we could express it in many ways; but a good summary can be found in one word: sin.
Why on earth should we focus on that and give attention to our sin?
The short answer is because Scripture calls us to do it: in glorifying God in all we do (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17), one very crucial aspect of that, to be sure, is to give a good amount of attention to ourselves - through sobering and scrutinizing eyes of course (1 Cor. 11:27-28; cf. 2 Cor. 13:5).
But to explain more clearly (I hope), let's examine a passage:
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Many interpreters of this passage will equate light with righteousness and darkness with sin. And I understand that interpretation. It's clear enough in several other passages of Scripture.
However, there also several times in Scripture where light is to be interpreted as exposing or illuminating (you know, what light does), compared to darkness that conceals or hides things. And I think this is one of those cases.(1)
So what is John saying here?
If we say we have fellowship with the divine Lord who enlightens the world (Jn. 1:9), yet we walk around in a state of concealing our life from Him, we're not in step with the constant repentance-filled life that marks a Christian (Mt. 3:8). I don't think sinning is equated with darkness here, because as we walk in the light it is there that our sins are exposed (confessed), and it is there that "the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." If we walked in the light, and light meant not sinning, there would be no need to be cleansed from all unrighteousness at that point.
Further, John goes on to talk about how none of us are either (1) without past sin (1 Jn. 1:10), or (2) without present sin (1 Jn. 1:8). So walking in the light is walking in the illuminating work of our Lord, who exposes our sin (at our confession, in John's context) upon which we are cleansed in our relation to Him from all unrighteousness.
But what is the key in this passage?
The key is walking about in the light. Walking about in the exposure of our sins to God's righteous standard, by which, in our confession, the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from all unrighteousness regarding our fellowship with Him.
Or put another way, the key is self-examination. If we don't give attention to ourselves, we may find that while we're doing "good" deeds, we may be at the very same time simply refusing to walk about in the light of Christ, not wanting our evil deeds (though we do them simultaneously with the "good") to be exposed.
The glorious thing though is that when they are exposed (confessed), it is then that we are freed from the burden of our sins and are assured of the glorious gospel power that we have in Christ - redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:14). But we must first examine ourselves - give sufficient attention to ourselves - in order to know about these sins, and to bring them into Christ's light through confession that we might gain the assurance and be restored to the joy of our salvation (Ps. 51:7, 12).
"All well and good. You haven't really told us anything we didn't already know."
Perhaps not. But can I try to give an example just once more? Will you bear with me just a bit longer?
Consider this passage from Scripture as well, where a prostitute has just anointed Jesus' feet in a Pharisee's house:
Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
A denarii was a day's wage for a laborer. To make it simple let's round the median household income in America to $52,0000 a year. This means a day's wage (for a household) is $200. So the one debtor owed $10,000. And the other owed $1,000,000.
Obviously the one with the million dollar debt is going to love the lender who cancels that debt to a much greater depth than the one who only owed ten thousand.
And you know what? All the while, I read this with the understanding that we're the ones who owe $1,000,000 in the parable. It didn't dawn on me to actually look at my life. To look at the depths of my sin, to pray like David and plead with God to forgive even my secret sins (Ps. 19:12-13, 90:8).
When we spend time in the Word, we find out how quickly it becomes a terrifying mirror - showing us who we really are. Hatred in our heart (Ti. 3:3), lust in our eyes (Mt. 5:28), feet that are swift to shed blood (Rom. 3:15). If I were honest with myself I would gladly, gladly be the debtor who owed only a million dollars.
But if I just give more attention to myself, if I truly look at what God considers righteous (Ps. 15:1-5, 24:3-5, etc.), and who I am in that light - I find I'm no where close to the million dollar debtor.
No. ... I have millions upon millions, billions upon billions...even trillions upon trillions in debt to God.
Is this not terrible news? It is without Christ. But it is glorious, redemptive, healing news when we walk into the exposing light of His righteousness, confessing our sins, and confessing Him as our Savior (1 Jn. 2:1-2). And there we experience the joy of our relationship to the living God - being thoroughly and truthfully examined and acknowledged - and redeemed to the glorious place we have by being in Christ Jesus the Righteous One - fully cleansed from all unrighteousness, and fully restored to a glorifying relationship to Him.
For as Christ confirmed, the one who had the greater debt, is the one who loved Christ more. Just as it says elsewhere, where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (Rom. 5:20-21).
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Sinner-friend, I ask you: Do you want to glorify God? Do you want to know the Savior's love more?
Try giving a little more attention to yourself. Not for the sake of nit-picking at your sin and putting on charades about how "bad" you are. But for the sake of knowing who you really are in God's eyes - apart from Christ - that you may know how glorious and wonderful and merciful a Savior He is to save you, and that you might love Him even more because of your new-found knowledge of your sin and of the depths of His love for you in bringing you - even you - to Himself through His substitutionary work for you (2 Cor. 5:21)!
(1) I will say the two go very hand in hand. Whether light is righteousness or illumination and darkness is sin or concealment, you'll see how the Bible employs both uses of the word in both illuminating our sin and calling us to righteousness. See Proverbs 4:18-19.
If you want my reason for this particular interpretation for this passage, here it is:
In context of Johannine literature, Jesus use this same imagery/verbiage when it comes to people who will not believe in him: "And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed" (Jn. 3:19-20).
People who do evil deeds, who walk about in sin, do not come to the exposing, illuminating power of the light. Why? Because they know their deeds are evil, and they do not want them to be exposed. It's not that they do not want to become righteous (by coming to the light - although it's clear that they don't want to become righteous). They don't want their evil deeds to be shown for what they know they are - evil. They don't want their deeds exposed by the light.
John's not the only NT author to use light and darkness in this way. Paul says Christians are called, as "children of light" (Eph. 5:8), to expose (shed light on) the "unfruitful works of darkness" (Eph. 5:11, 13).
Here are two examples of where Scripture is clearly referring to the illuminating aspect of light (rather than a symbol of righteousness). Although again, as above, I maintain they pretty much go hand in hand (Prv. 4:18-19).
I'm a sinner saved by God's amazing grace through the the precious blood of Jesus Christ and the glorious quickening of the Holy Spirit.
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