Although I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, I read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren back in 2002 when it first came out. The only part of the book I still remember was the very first line, “It’s not all about you.” Many years, and books, later, I would have to disagree, in part. Yes, as Christians, we’re called to live out a life of selfless servitude and strive to take the focus off of ourselves, replacing it with reverence for God and putting others’ needs before ours. However, how this mantra may be misleading is when we neglect the integral part of how we are to go about doing this: namely, by being intimately aware of who, what, and why we are in relation to God. In this case, it is all about us. We need to know about ourselves, but only as far as the Word directs us to.
Psalm 119 is an exhaustive chapter, filled with motivational morsels to abide by His word. If anyone is in doubt of the utmost importance of adoring Scripture, this one chapter offers 176 verses to leave a reader both convicted and assured. Even though the primary focus is on loving God’s laws, commands, decrees, and precepts, the words in verses 33-35 tore me away from God and brought my focus back to little ol’ me. “Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them until the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight” (emphasis mine). How can we read so many ‘me’s and ‘I’s and not, at some point, see that we, as individuals, are meant to be self-seeking?
This is where our self-focus is jettisoned almost immediately as we read those verses in Psalm 119, because although the Psalmist (most agree that David was its author) uses ‘me’s and ‘I’s, he is only using these pronouns as they relate to God. As we relate to God…that is the only proper way to see that it is all about us. He asks of God to teach him, give to him, and direct him all with the end goal being to be able to follow Him, obey Him, and stay on His path. These are heavy requests and, without a doubt, hard to keep promises that he makes after each one.
The realization that the way we worship God is directly related to what we’ve been taught about Him, what understanding we’ve been given about Him, and what direction we believe we ought to be going to get closer to Him is one that needs to be unpacked. If our primary method for learning about God isn’t inclusive of reading and revering His word, as Psalm 119 well claims as worthy, we’ll end up worshipping a god not of the Bible, but of our own making. If we’ve created a certain type of god, void of even one of His many attributes as He reveals them in Scripture, we’re guilty of worshipping a self-crafted idol. Perhaps unintentionally, or with good intentions, we disregard the teachings of His laws, commands, directives, and decrees that He lays out for us in writing. What follows is the inability to understand what we do not know and, eventually, we’re unable to be given godly direction because we’ve never truly delighted in Him.
So we can see that the order of ‘me’s is properly placed: teach me, give me, direct me. Even though it seems like the demands of an egomaniac, each request placed on God is, in all actuality, all about Him. And, of course, while it is all about Him, it is also all about us. If we don’t hold an only biblical view of God, if we don’t delight in the whole of His word, if we drum up false notions of Him because they feel nice and should be true, we are accountable to Him. It is only our own hearts we can be held responsible for, now up until the day we meet our Maker. This is where this does become all about us. What do we believe about God? What do we believe about ourselves, in relation to Him? What does He believe about us? Each of these questions have right answers, in accordance with the Bible. The test is still in progress.