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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - Joseph, The Tyranny of Insecurity

Craig Smith - Joseph, The Tyranny of Insecurity

Craig Smith - Joseph, The Tyranny of Insecurity
TOPICS: Explicit, Grace, Joseph, Insecurity

Joseph’s Colorful Robe. Joseph was one of Jacob’s 12 sons. Jacob loved him more than all of his other sons. Jacob made Joseph a colorful robe. His brothers were jealous. They wanted a nice robe too. And they wanted to be loved as much as Joseph was loved. Joseph had a dream. He told his family, we were bundles of grain from the field. Your bundles have been bowed down to mine. Then Joseph had another dream. He said this time, the sun and the moon and 11 stars were bowing down to me. His father asked, “Does this mean our family will bow down to you someday?” The brothers were even angry. They threw Joseph into a dry well. Along came some traders, the brothers sold Joseph to them as a slave. They lied to their father and said Joseph has been killed by a wild animal. But God was with Joseph.

Oh, so close, right? And yet so far that is the cleaned up and watered-down version of Joseph’s life. The reality is there was a little bit more messiness going on there. Hey, welcome to Mission Hills, wherever you are in the world. We’re so glad to have you with us this weekend for the second part of our Explicit Series, where we’re digging in to some of this kind of messy stories from the Bible that we have a tendency to clean up and water down, sometimes getting rid of the parts that actually allow us to find our place in the story. And the life of Joseph is definitely one of those stories. Okay? Now, if you’re only familiar with the kid’s version of Joseph’s life, you might be tempted to think that the story of Joseph is a story of sibling rivalry, or maybe the story of jealousy and its dangers.

And certainly, that’s part of it. But the reality is that the story of Joseph, or at least the story that we’re going to look at today, the part of the story we’re going to look at today is actually the story of a young man who is obsessed with himself. He’s self-obsessed, or in modern terms, we might say this, this the story of a man who spent way too much time looking at the world through the selfie-lens on his phone. You know the selfie-lens, right? It’s that lens that it kind of shows us the world around us, but what it mostly shows us is us, actually, right? You know, and here’s the thing, like you can actually see a little bit of the world through the selfie-lens, but you can’t see a lot of it. Mostly what I see is me. And trying to get around that way can be kind of dangerous.

I found this out last week, if you saw the social posts that we put on last week, you might’ve noticed that I was doing a post where I was kind of talking about our reopening plan that we’re moving towards. And it had some stuff that’s on the ground, in the lobby of the Littleton campus. And I was trying to show people that, right? But I was also trying to keep myself in the frame, so I was kind of do in this. And what you didn’t see was what I posted there was take number five. Because the first few of the way it ended, I was trying to show me, show that, and I was like, I’m down. And so I deleted those things right away, but that’s the reality, right? The reality is that trying to get around using the selfie-lens makes for a pretty bumpy ride.

And that’s certainly true in life. Trying to look at the world through a lens that’s mostly showing us ourselves creates all kinds of problems. I really experienced that this week, church, it was a tough week, I’ll just be honest with you. You know, we all know all the stuff that’s going on. And I found myself in a really difficult place this week. I really wanted to speak into issues, but I found myself looking at everything through the lens of me and how anything I said or did how it would come back to me or come back on me. I wanted to speak against racism, but I was also a little bit afraid that that would bring criticism towards me, that people might think, well, then you’re condoning the riots by speaking against racism.

And by the way that happened, spoke against racism, I got some criticism that I was condoning the riots by speaking against racism. I also had a little bit of a fear that if I spoke against the riots, people would accuse me of, you know, condoning the racism that led to it, or that they perceived that led to it, right? By the way, that happened. I did speak against the riots and the violence and I had people going, “So you’re okay with the racism.” Not what I was trying to say, but I knew that was going to come, you know. And I was afraid that if I tried to walk the middle line and speak about both, which it did, I’d actually get criticism from both sides, which I did. Okay? I was afraid that if I said nothing, if I was just silent, that would come across as either being cowardly or condoning one or the other, whichever people wanted to pick, and I had people say, “Well, you might’ve spoken, but you didn’t speak loud enough. Does that mean you’re okay with the racism? Does it mean you’re okay with the riots?

It was a rough week. And I don’t tell you this to ask you to pity me. This is not a woe is me kind of a thing, right? The reason I tell you this is because I want you to know that because of all that…I got to the middle of this week and I found myself just in a really dark place, I did. I was stressed out. I was frustrated. And quite honestly, I was depressed. And it wasn’t because, it took me a while to realize this. But I finally did. It wasn’t because I was in a no-win situation. Sometimes in leadership, you just find yourself in a no-win situation and you just have to move forward in the way that God calls you to.

It wasn’t because I was in a no-win situation that I found myself in a dark place. It was because I was looking at everything and trying to make decisions through the lens of me. I was looking at the world. I was trying to see the world around me through the selfie-lens. And here’s what I’ve discovered, trying to get around using the selfie-lens makes for a very rough road. Okay? Trying to get around using the selfie-lens makes for a pretty rough ride in life. We’re going to see that. And we’re going to see how important it is that we figure out how to hit that little flip button on our lives and start looking through the other lens. I want you go ahead and grab a Bible, start making your way to the Book of Genesis chapter 37. We’re going to take a look at the first part of the life of Joseph today.

We’re going to look at the rest of the life of Joseph next week. But the first part of the life of Joseph is really about a man who’s looking at everything through the selfie-lens. Check this out. Joseph, a young man of seventeen was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives. And he brought their father a bad report about them. He brought the father a bad report about them. Now, in English, bad reports sounds kind of neutral. Like, you know, it’s just sort of like some negative information,but in the original Hebrew that this was written in, the phrase there isn’t about bad information, it’s actually about bad intention. Okay? Not about bad information, it’s about bad intention. The phrase there literally translates to a bad whisper. Okay?

The kind of thing that you do when you want to make sure the person you’re talking about is not hearing you, right? And you’re going to say something negative about them. And the reason you do that is to cause them harm and maybe to make yourself look better by making them look worse, right? That’s the kind of thing you’re talking about. What he’s really saying is this, he’s saying that Joseph was engaging in toxic talk, which is a sure sign of self-obsession. He was engaging in toxic talk, a sure sign of self-obsession. Why do I say that? Why is toxic talk a pretty good indicator that we’re self-obsessed, we’re looking at everything through the selfie-lens? Because the number one reason for toxic talk is to make us look better by making others look worse, right? That’s the number one reason. There may be a few others, but there’s no close second. Okay? The number one reason we engage in toxic talk is to make someone else look bad, which makes us look better in comparison.

Okay? Listen to me, church. There’s two ways to look better. Do you know that? There’s two ways to look better. We can look better by getting better or making others look worse, right? Two very different approaches to looking better. We can actually get better. We can make others look worse. See, we can get better, right? We can work hard so that our accomplishments stand out and we get recognized for the effort that we’ve put in, right? We can identify weaknesses in our lives and we can work on them. We can bring people into our lives to mentor us and to coach us and to disciple us, to help us become more like Jesus and join him on mission better. We can do that. We can identify flaws in our character and ask other people to hold us accountable on those. And we can work on them.

We can say, we’re sorry when we’re wrong, when we mess up and then we can, you know, we’re going to work better at it. We’re going to commit ourselves to continuing down that road of getting better, we can do that. But that’s hard, right? That’s exhausting. That’s a lot of hard work. Listen, getting older is automatic. Getting better takes hard work. And so, Satan kind of slides in and he goes, “Man, that looks exhausting. Can I suggest an alternative? Hey, instead of standing out by working out, how about you stand out by cutting everybody else down?” So much easier, right?

It is easier. And it works. You know, it works. You’ve experienced, either you’ve had some success because you’ve done it to somebody else or you’ve seen somebody else get ahead at your expense because they were engaging in toxic talk about you. We know that it works. Okay? It does work for a while. It works for a while, but it’s costly. Getting ahead that way costs us something. Because, here’s the thing. Toxic talk divides people and poisons relationships. It always does. Toxic talk always divides people and poisons relationships, people in relationships that we’re going to need later on down the line. Okay? So yeah, it works, but there’s also a cost to it. Check this out.

It says, Now, Israel, that was Joseph’s father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he had been born to him in his old age. It’s a really interesting statement. He loved Joseph more than any other sons because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. That’s sort of the reason given us why he favored Joseph. And I’m sure that was part of it. But what’s interesting is Joseph was not the youngest son. Joseph had a younger brother named Benjamin who was technically born in Israel’s older age. So, if that’s the only reason that he loved Joseph most, because, you know, Joseph had been born in his old age and then he should have loved Benjamin even more because he had been born in his older age, right?

And so, I think the reason that Moses tells us that is to kind of go, yeah, that’s part of the reason, maybe that’s the reason that gets talked about a lot, but it’s the kind of thing that’s supposed to make us go, “But is that all that’s going on here?” It’s supposed to make us wonder if there might not be another reason. And if I had to guess, I wonder if the other reason is because of Joseph’s toxic talk was working. I wonder if he cut his brothers down enough that his father had begun to think of him much better than he actually was. Kind of feels like maybe that’s part of what’s going on here, right? It says Israel loved him more. And then it says this, “And he made an ornate robe for him.” And he made an ornate robe for him. Now, if you know anything about the story of Joseph, even if you’re brand new to the Bible, you have heard a little bit about this robe, right? We often talk about it as being a mini-colored robe or a coat of many colors. There was even a hit Broadway musical featuring Donny Osmond back in the day, right? Back in the day.

And it was called “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Well, what’s interesting though, is that the original Hebrew here doesn’t actually say anything about colors. There’s just kind of an interesting way that that’s been translated through the ages. What it literally says is nothing about colors. What it literally just says, it was an ornate robe. The New International Version I’m reading is very literal there. It was a fancy robe. Think Gucci, not the Gap. Okay? And by the way, that’s not toxic talk against the Gap. I’m not saying anything bad about the Gap. I’m just saying you wouldn’t have gotten this robe to buy at the Gap. You would’ve had to go to Gucci to get this. It was a really fancy robe. Okay? It was a really ornate robe. It’s an obvious sign of their father’s affection for Joseph, maybe affection that Joseph has managed to grab for himself by the way he’s been talking about his brothers.

Now check this out. Now, when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him. They hated Joseph and they could not speak a kind word to him. It’s really interesting. I think there’s a little bit of play on words, there a little bit of humor going on, right? He says that when they saw that their father loved Joseph more, well, how did they see it? Because Joseph was wearing the coat around. Joseph was making it obvious. He was showing off, right? Which is another sign of self-obsession, right? Self-obsessed people can’t help showing off signs of their success. They can’t help showing off their signs of success. You know people like that, right? People that can’t help but make sure you use their titles, they can’t help them make sure that you see their diplomas, they can’t help, but make sure that you see the cars they’re driving or the houses they’re living in. It’s in their Facebook posts. It’s on their Instagram feeds. It’s all over the place because self-obsessed people, they can’t help but showing off because, you know, it’s proof, right? It’s the proof they’re worth paying attention to, right? That’s what Joseph’s doing. He’s showing off.

Joseph just keeps making it worse. Check this out. Joseph had a dream. And when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had, we were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” Isn’t that interesting? Wonder what that could mean, right? Now in Joseph’s defense, he didn’t make the dream up. Okay. God gave him the dream. We know that because later on in the story of Joseph, we’ll see it next week, the dream basically came true. Okay? So, this is a dream that God gave to him. So, Joseph didn’t make it up, but Joseph didn’t have to talk about it either. Did he? He didn’t have to say anything about it.

And what did he say? It says that they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said, right? The fact that he talked about it is a bigger deal than the fact that he had the dream in the first place. He’s bragging, right? He’s bragging, which is another sign of self-obsession. Bragging is another sure sign of self-obsession. Okay? Maybe you know somebody in your life that just constantly seems to be blowing their own horn. They’re constantly bragging. And you might look at those people and go, “Oh, there’s just so prideful.” And that may be true. It’s possible. But often bragging is a sign of insecurity actually, it’s a sign that they’re blowing their own horn because they’re afraid if they don’t, no one will notice them, and they’ll just be forgotten. Okay? But again, they’re still thinking through the lens of it’s all about me, right?

Whether they got there through pride or through insecurity, they’re still looking at the world through a lens that mostly has them in it. Okay? And so bragging is just another sign of this self-obsession. And the problem is that people who are struggling with self-obsession often don’t know that they’re struggling with it. They often don’t know how they come across and how they impact others. Check this out. And then he had another dream and he told it to his brothers, right? Like that’s crazy. After he saw how the first one was received, you’d think he would have shut up about the second one, Right? But listen, self-obsession blinds us to how we come across to others. Okay? You hear me, church? Self-obsession blinds us to how we come across to others. The reality is the most self-obsessed people have the least idea that they’re self-obsessed.

They’ve been looking at the world through the selfie-lens so long that they really can’t even see how much they are blocking their view of the rest of reality. Okay? Self-obsessed people are blind. Their self-obsession blinds them, the kind of impact they’re having on others, how they’re coming across to others. So he had another dream and he told them, and check it, it’s worse than that. Check this up. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream. And this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” Now, Joseph had eleven brothers. So nobody’s missing that the eleven stars represent the eleven brothers bowing down to him. But then he adds in the sun and moon business. And in the ancient near East sun and moon were often, they were often symbols for fathers and mothers. And so, the implication is that the father and mother and the family are going to be bowing down as well.

And check this up. I don’t know about you, but if I had a dream where I thought my father might be bowing down to me, I absolutely would not be telling my dad about that. But check this out. Now, when he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him. And he said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” And his brothers were jealous of him. That absolutely is part of the story, but why were they jealous of him? And what part did Joseph play in arousing the jealousy? His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

And what’s about to happen it’s bad. And I don’t think it’s justified by what Joseph has done. I want to be really clear about that. What his brothers ended up doing to him can’t be explained away just because Joseph was kind of a jerk, just because Joseph was self-obsessed. Okay? But I also think it’s important we recognize that Joseph’s not innocent in this. The way that Joseph has been acting, his insistence on looking at everything through the selfie-lens has provoked some of what happens here. It doesn’t justify it, but he’s not an innocent party. Now, his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks at Shechem. And Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem.” It’s interesting the word Shechem is mentioned twice there. It doesn’t need to be and so that kind of draws our attention to it. And here’s what you need to know about Shechem.

It was about 50 miles away from where Joseph and his family lived. Now, 50 miles is a really long way to go to pasture your sheep. It’s a really long way. It’s a long way today. It’s an almost inconceivably long way to go in those days. And I think what we’re supposed to understand is his brothers are putting as much distance between themselves and Joseph as possible, right? Because toxic talk, and self-obsession too, it divides people. Okay? They’re putting as much of a barrier between themselves and their younger brother as they possibly can. His father wants to know what’s going on. He can’t easily find out because they’re so far away. And so, he’s going to send Joseph. He says this, he says, “Come, I am going to send you to them.” “Very well,” he replied. And so, he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks and bring word back to me.” And then he sent them off. He sent him off from the Valley of Hebron. Now, when Joseph arrived at Shechem, a man found him wandering around in the fields and he asked him, what are you looking for?” He replied, “Well, I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they’re grazing their flocks?” “Oh, they moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, let’s go to Dothan.” Oh, interesting.

So, Joseph went after his brothers. He went after his brothers, and he found them near Dothan. Interesting. Again, twice you had the place mentioned, why? Well, Dothan’s another 13 miles further away from home. So now they’re almost 65 miles away from home. So, not only did they try to get as far away as possible, but they’re looking for more opportunities to get even farther away because toxic talk, self-obsession, bragging, all that stuff. It divides people, poisons relationships, right? So, they’re going as far away as they possibly can. Finally, Joseph finds them. But they saw him in the distance. And before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. “Here comes that dreamer,” they said to each other, “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns,” that’s a well, “And say that a ferocious animal devoured him. And then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” You know, standard sibling rivalry stuff, right? Yeah. I mean, if you had siblings, you probably did this kind of stuff to each other all the time, right? No? Okay. It’s pretty bad. I’ll admit that. But not all of his brothers were on board. Check this out. Now when Reuben heard this, one of his brothers, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said, “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.”

Reuben said this to rescue him from them and to take him back to their father. So, when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of this robe, the ornate robe he was wearing. You notice that? The ornate robe he was wearing. The interesting thing is like, you don’t wear Gucci out into the fields, right? You don’t wear this kind of robe for this kind of trip. Why is Joseph doing it? He’s still lording it over them. And he’s still flaunting the signs of success. He’s still bragging. He’s still looking through a lens that mostly is about him.

And they took him. They throw him into the cistern. Cistern was empty and there was no water in it. And as they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm, and myrrh. And they were on their way to take them down to Egypt. Now, Judah said to his brothers, “Yeah, what will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” He’s a really good brother. Right? Can we all agree? Right? He’s opted to take murder off the table and just make, you know, slavery the option. And his brothers agreed. Now, when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and they sold him for 20 shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites who took him to Egypt.

And when Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes, a sign of grief. He went back to his brothers and he said, “The boy isn’t there. Where can I turn now?” And then they got Joseph’s robe. They slaughtered a goat and they dipped the robe in the blood. They took the ornate robe back to their father. And they said, “We found this, examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.” And notice that phrasing, not to see if it’s our brother, but your son’s robe. You can hear the bitterness there. You can see the poisoned relationship that Joseph’s self-obsession has created not only between him and his brothers but between them and their father as well. He recognized and he said, “It is my son’s robe. Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”

And then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days, all his sons and daughters came to comfort him. But he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I’ll continue to mourn until I joined my son in the grave.” And so his father wept for him. Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard. It’s a pretty radical reversal, right? I mean, Joseph goes from favored son to slave. He’s a prisoner in a foreign land.

Instead of being kind of the one who’s managed to stand out by making everybody else look bad, by cutting them down. Now he’s kind of lowest of low. It’s a pretty radical reversal. That’s what self-obsession does. That’s the kind of life that self-obsession leads to it. It constantly not only divides people and poisons relationships, but it causes us to constantly trip and fall down and scrape ourselves up and try to get back up. And then, you know, like I was trying to do when I was trying to look at that thing, it’s tough to keep ourselves always in the view and still get through life in a way that’s even vaguely like healthy. That’s what self-obsession does.

And here’s the interesting thing about self-obsession. Some people are self-obsessed without even realizing it. It’s easy to spot in others, right? You know, oh, they’re bragging. They’re engaging in toxic talk. They are constantly, you know, making sure that we see their signs of success, right? We see it in others. But sometimes we don’t see it in ourselves. And then part of the reason we don’t see it in ourselves is we don’t always recognize what exactly in us leads to it. See I think there’s a temptation to think that the only road that takes you to self-obsession is pride, right? People who think they’re all that and a bag of chips. Of course, that’s why they’re self-obsessed because they’re so prideful. But here’s an interesting thing that I’ve discovered over the years in my own life. Okay?

Self-obsession can come from either pride or insecurity. And I mentioned this a little bit earlier, but I think we need to lean into it right now because the reality is a lot of us are actually self-obsessed, but we’re not prideful. And when that happens, sometimes we don’t see the self-obsession. Because you’re like, “Well, I don’t think I’m all that,” but insecurity can lead us to self-obsession every bit as much as pride. Listen. You know, there’s two reasons why you look at everything through the selfie-lens, right? I mean, one lens is because you know, you just think you look so good, right? Boy, that’s a flattering angle, honestly. That’s great. That’s one reason.

The other reason we look at everything through the selfie-lens is because we’re afraid that we look stupid, right? You can be self-obsessed because you think you’re so good or you can be self-obsessed because you know you’re not and you’re so afraid that other people are going to find out, right? You’re always looking through the selfie-lens to make sure you don’t have lettuce stuck in your teeth or your hair doesn’t look stupid, or your makeup hasn’t smudged. And you haven’t managed to let out into the world all the ways that we know, that you know, you’re not as good as you hope people will think you are. Problem is that’s an exhausting way to live, right? Always worried about what other people think. Always having to keep ourselves in the frame and trying to maneuver around looking at the world that way, because we’re so afraid that the world will find out that we’re not all that. Listen, self-obsession can come from both pride and insecurity. And I know for me, insecurity is the big driver for self-obsession in my life. It is.

I’ll just be honest with you about that. I’m insecure. I’ll say it. I am. I actually think a lot of people that are self-obsessed, and a lot of people assume that they’re prideful. I actually think a lot of those people are actually insecure. In fact, almost every person that I’ve ever met or worked with that other said, “Man, they’re so full of themselves,” the more I’ve gotten to know those people, the more I’ve realized, no, actually what they’re full of is self-doubt, what they’re full of is insecurity. Okay? Self-obsession can come from either pride or insecurity. And it’s important that we recognize that both of those things can take us to the same place where we’re looking at everything through the selfie-lens. It’s important that we recognize it because depending on how you get there, you have to sort of deal with it in different ways, but we have to deal with it.

Okay? Because here’s another thing you need to know about self-obsession. Self-obsession takes us off mission with God. Okay? Self-obsession takes us off mission with God. You cannot be on mission with Jesus. Okay? You cannot be extending God’s influence into the world and obsessed self. It just doesn’t work. You can’t get through life like that and be extending God’s influence. Can’t be done. Okay? Self-obsession takes us off mission. We gotta see what has to be dealt with. Okay. How do we deal with it? Well, it depends in part on how you got there. Okay? If it’s pride, here’s what you do. If you struggle with self-obsession because of pride, try opening your eyes a little bit wider. All right. That’s a pretty good piece of advice. Because a lot of times what happens is prideful people are only prideful because they’re limiting their view, right?

They’re only looking at a certain few people that allow them to go “I’m better than that person,” right? But if you open your eyes a little bit wider, if you take in a wider field of view, you begin to realize, yeah, I might be better than that person, but I’m not better than that person. I’m not more spiritual than that person. I’m not kinder than that person. I’m not better at my job than that person. I’m not as good at this as that person over there. And when we begin to realize that, the pride begins to be ratcheted down, okay? I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this one. Bible talks a lot about pride. The reality is you need to understand, God will humble pride if we don’t humble ourselves. Okay? So, if you struggle with self-obsession because of pride, figure out what it takes like to realize that you’re not all that. You’re not. Okay?

But I’ll spend a little more time on the insecurity business. Because actually as I read the story of Joseph, he reminds me of myself and he reminds me of so many other people that I’ve seen who are consumed by themselves. They’re obsessed with themselves. They’re looking at life through the selfie-lens, but it’s not because they’re prideful. It’s because they’re insecure. They’re full of doubt and insecurity. And if that’s you, if that kind of hits close to home, let me tell you a few things that I’ve learned in my life that have helped. Okay? The first one is this. We have to recognize its voice. We have to learn to recognize the voice of insecurity. Okay?

We have to learn to recognize that when we are tempted to brag, when we’re attempted to make sure people see our signs of success, when we’re tempted to cut somebody else down so that we end up looking better, when we’re tempted to do that, we have to begin to go, oh, that’s insecurity right there. Insecurity is causing me to do that. Gotta call it out, right? That’s the first thing we have to do. Second thing we do is we refuse to give it the final vote. Okay? I don’t know how to stop feeling insecure. I don’t know how to stop it when somebody praises another pastor. Oh, he gave the great.. it was the best message ever, Craig, you got to listen to this. I don’t know how to stop myself from going. “Oh, but what do you think about me?” I don’t know how to stop that. But what I’ve learned is that I can recognize the voice of insecurity and then I can choose not to give it the final vote. I can choose not to do or to say or whatever the thing is that I would do or say if I were listening to the voice of insecurity. Okay?

I’ll give you an example. Just recently, a friend of mine, who’s not living anywhere near us, living pretty far away, mentioned that his wife has been watching our messages throughout the Coronavirus. He said, “Yeah, she really likes the way you teach. Yeah. She really likes the way you handle the Bible.” And like, I should have been like, “Oh, I’m really glad God used me.” But you know what I actually felt inside? I felt inside, “Well, what about you? You keep talking about what she thinks, but what about you? What do you think, right? I want to know what you.” And I went, “Oh, voice of insecurity.” Now, if I had given insecurity the final vote, I would have asked, but I chose not to do that. I recognized its voice, but I refused to give it the final vote.

Then the third thing you got to do is this, you got to transfer your trust, okay? You got to transfer your trust. You got to somehow initiate a transfer of trust so that you’re not trusting in what everybody else thinks to feel secure. You’re not trusting what everybody else thinks to feel solid, right? You’re not trusting what other people think to navigate your way through life. You gotta transfer your trust. And what you got to transfer to is not what other people think about you but it’s what God says about you. I love this. This is the Book of Isaiah, Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.” That’s a powerful verse. You will keep in perfect peace. See, insecurity and self-obsession, that they don’t lead to peace.

Okay? Insecurity that leads to self-obsession doesn’t lead to peace, but honestly, pride that leads to self-obsession doesn’t lead to peace. Self-obsession doesn’t lead to peace. Whatever is driving us to that point where we’re looking at everything through the selfie-lens, we got to recognize it’s not going to give us peace. It’s only going to give us exhaustion and weariness and frustration and stress and depression. He says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.” We got to transfer our trust. One of my favorite proverbs. Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, a trap. But whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe,” right? Whoever trust in the Lord is kept safe.

This tendency, this temptation, this dangerous desire to look to other people for our sense of significance. What that leads us to is we’re constantly thinking about ourselves. We’re constantly looking at the world through the lens of ourselves and we’re at the mercy of everybody else. And so, it’s just all that much worse, right? So, that’s how we begin to deal with self-obsession that comes from insecurity, right? First thing, what do we do? We learn to recognize its voice. Second thing is we refuse to give it the final vote. And then the third thing is we begin to transfer our trust. We begin to read Scripture. We begin to pray and ask God for a transformation into what we’re looking for and what we’re looking at.

Listen, what happened to Joseph is tragic. It’s terrible. No question about it. And I’m not saying that everything his brothers did to him was justified. It wasn’t, but it wasn’t unprovoked either, right? He wasn’t a completely innocent party. And I believe that the reason God allowed this to happen was because he was in the process of doing something in Joseph’s life that had to be done. Okay? Here’s the process of taking care of that self-obsession, because he had plans for him. He wanted to bless him, but he also needed to make sure that Joseph was in the place that those blessings were used in the way they were intended. Listen to me, church, listen, sometimes God has to break us of our self-obsession before he can bless us. Do you hear me? Sometimes God has to break us of our self-obsession before he can bless us. Because as we saw last week, the reason God blesses us is never just for our benefit, it’s always so that it flows out of us into other people, and self-obsession will keep that from happening. Okay? So sometimes God has to break us of our self-obsession before he can bless us. We’re going to see next week that God has incredible things that he wants to do in and through Joseph. But he’s got to deal with this self-obsession thing first. Otherwise, he’s just going to hoard those blessings. And that’s not the purpose of them. Okay?

A couple of questions for you as you wrestle with this truth this week, first one, just this. How do I make myself look better by cutting others down? I think we all do it. Okay? And we all have particular areas in our lives where we’re really prone to do it. Maybe it’s Facebook, maybe it’s Twitter. You know, maybe it’s face to face. Maybe it’s behind somebody’s back, right? I remember Joseph gave the bad whisper only when his brothers weren’t there, right? Where in your life are you tempted to do it? How in your life are you tempted to, how do I make myself look better, try to, by cutting others down? Okay? Second question is on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being never, 10 being every chance I get, how tempted am I to brag? Okay? It’s another sign of self-obsession. How tempted am I to brag? And maybe more importantly, what drives that? What drives you to brag? Is it pride or is it insecurity?

Third question. What needs to be broken off of me so I don’t hoard God’s blessing? What work does God need to do in my life so that I’m ready to receive the blessings that God wants to pour into me and through me into the lives of others? Okay? Sometimes, sometimes God has to break something off of us before he can truly begin blessing us. Would you pray with me?

God, as your people, we confess to you that probably all of us spend a whole lot more time than we should looking at life through the selfie-lens. We constantly maneuvering to keep ourselves in the frame and Lord, we stumble and we trip and we fall and we hurt. We divide and we poison and we seek your forgiveness. Lord would you give us the gift of setting us free from the need to see ourselves in everything, the gift of the freedom to move forward on mission with you, living lives that are about you and not all about us. Thank you for the life of Joseph. The example that we find, Lord, may we learn from the example before we have to learn from the hard lessons like he faced. Lord, we invite you to break off of us anything that will keep the blessings bottled up, break it off, and bless us so that we might be a blessing.

Hey, if you’re a follower of Jesus, would you do this for me? Would you just begin praying right now? Pray for those that are watching all over the world, that don’t have a relationship with God. They’ve never experienced the love of God, what it means to be in a relationship. And if that’s you, I just want to speak to you very briefly for a moment. Here’s what you need to understand today. Maybe as you listen to this message, something began to stir in your heart and you realized, “Hey, I’m looking at life through the selfie-lens. I’m pretty self-obsessed.” Maybe it’s pride, maybe it’s insecurity, but you’re realizing that that’s you. And I want you to know you’re not alone. We’re all in that same place. It’s the basis of this thing we call sin.

Sin, it’s the wrong that we do, but it’s all driven by a self-obsession, it’s all driven by a desire to turn away from God and to live life on our own terms. That’s what sin is. It’s insisting on doing things our way and not God’s way. It’s inherently self-obsessed and it’s costly. Because when we turn away from the God of life, we end up in death. Bible says the wages of sin is death. That’s the eternal, endless consequence of sin, death. But our God is so selfless. He is so obsessed with us as his children that are separated from him because of our sin. He sent his own Son, Jesus who lived a perfect life. And then he died on the cross and he did it willingly in order to pay for our sin. Jesus died on the cross to pay you for your sin. For all of the outworkings of your self-obsession, of my self-obsession.

He paid the price. He paid the wages of sin with his own death in his own blood. Three days later, he rose from the dead, and now he offers each of us forgiveness, salvation for all eternity, a place in heaven, and ultimately freedom from this self-obsession that just grinds us down and wears us out. He offers all of that by faith, by simply putting our trust in what he did. And if you’ve never done that before, today’s the day. There’s no reason for you to move forward in life from this moment without putting your faith in the God who is obsessed about you. Here’s how you do it. Wherever you are, you’re just going to have a conversation with God. Here’s what it sounds like. You’re going to say:

God, I have done wrong. I’ve sinned. I’m sorry. I get it. I am self-obsessed. Jesus, thank you for dying for me and my sin. I believe that you rose from the dead and I understand you’re offering me forgiveness, salvation, place in heaven, and freedom from myself. Jesus, come into my life. I put my faith in you. I’m going to trust in you and not me anymore. Jesus, I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.

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