The Tyranny of Self

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“Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure.”

                                                                                                              -Jane Austen


I am convinced from an intimate and alarming self-knowledge to a life time of experiences with my fellow human beings that Austen hits close to the mark; the mark of sin and that which darkens its core, the tyranny of self.

Shortly into my life journey, somewhere around the first sharp curve into adolescence and with it the exhilaration of increasing self-determination, I began to discover the subtle gripping power of self.  My life time of experience with self has only made me more keenly aware of its destructive power and increased my desire to be free of its tyrannical control. Through the years, the destructive tyranny of self has been most evident in three areas of my life:  self-promotion, self-protection and self-indulgence.

In a word, self-promotion is pride. Every time I have secretly envied another’s recognition or success, or quietly resented someone’s lack of what I deemed appropriate appreciation for my good efforts or kind consideration, self-promotion, or pride, loomed its ugly head.  Even if I didn’t act it out for all to see, it was still burrowing holes in my heart like a parasite.

Self protection is fear.  How many (I really don’t want to know) opportunities to love freely and live life fully were missed out of fear of pain or loss?  How many times have I kept my arms crossed, my mouth shut, or my head turned because my heart was clenched in a death grip to protect myself at the expense of another’s relief or gain? As the saying goes, “No one ever saved a life by running for cover.”

Of course, it’s much easier to be a selfless hero on impulse when there’s no time to think.  It’s in the day to day decisions that give us time to think and weigh the risks to self, like choosing to understand before insisting we’re understood, that separates the truly selfless from the fearful cowards.

Lust. It sounds so carnal and dirty.  But self-indulgence, or lust, isn’t just a sexual thing. And it’s not to be strictly equated with desire. Desire itself is not the problem. It’s the act of satisfying a desire or filling a void with the wrong thing or too much of a good thing and making the satisfaction of the desire our everything. It eyes not only another man’s wife, but another slice of cake; anything immediate and superficial that parades as the real thing; the cure for our eternal, spiritual need.

Self is a tyrant to be deposed.  Nothing but the liberating Lordship of Jesus Christ has illuminated my mind to the tyranny of self and no one but Jesus has given me any real hope for freedom to selflessly live. Jesus is Lord!


“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. “

 – Jesus Christ

1 thought on “The Tyranny of Self”

  1. Thank you Jim…

    Thank you for opening yourself up and allowing us to see this beautiful side of you that is yearning to be made pure. The things you said I can totally relate to and just know brother you aren’t alone. I’m thankful you took the time to write these words down. I’m glad you admitted the problem openly. I hope the next actions you take allow you to grow farther away from your old self. I personally know how it is to repent and then within weeks or even days find myself in the same position I was craving to get out of. I hope that you don’t have to go through that my dear brother.

    If there is anything I can do to help you with my small amount of power that was given to me, please let me know.

    Jesus IS Lord, Jesus is the Breaker of Chains

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