Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord! Luke 5:8
In the 1860s, General Gordon was besieged in Khartoum by the fanatical Mahdi army for over a year. He kept a journal in which he wrote his meditations. One of the most surprising thoughts that he penned was about himself. He wrote: “Nothing shocks me but myself.” On another occasion he wrote, “If only I could be free from General Gordon.” He was a brave, honest man who had the highest standards of personal conduct, yet something in his heart shocked him. He longed for freedom from himself. It is sad to see a woman married to a selfish, unkind husband, but it is far worse to be that husband. The woman will have a few hours of freedom a day, if only when her husband is asleep! But the husband will poison his own life in every waking moment. Jesus Christ causes us to see ourselves, and the result is shock. The person who takes Jesus seriously will sooner or later come up against the most awful barrier to His kindness and love – the power of self. This is precisely why Jesus Christ came – to release us from the bondage of self and make us free to love and serve Him. As Christians, we might add this amazing thought to those of General Gordon: “Nothing is sweeter than the cross by which we die to self.” Paul said: “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” – Galatians 6:14. Paul was not describing a sentimental appreciation of Jesus’ sufferings, but the jubilant cry of someone who has experienced the power of the cross to set us free from self.
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