RIDDING OURSELF OF SELF
by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA, USA)
Romans 1:1-7, "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (ESV).
When you have to introduce yourself what is it that you say? I must admit, I'm a bit uncomfortable when I have to do this. For example, when you preach or teach somewhere, or have an article or blog published, they always want you to introduce yourself. They want you to offer up a little bit of autobiographical information. I never know what to say, what to include, how much to leave in, how much to take out, etc. I feel like, “who really wants to hear about me?” So, typically, I just give them a paragraph or two of information beforehand and let them decide what they want to include and how they want to word it.
Paul is interesting in this aspect. Paul introduces himself at the beginning of each of his letters, but his longest introduction is in this Romans passage we just finished reading. What makes Paul's self introduction here so interesting is that he actually says very little about himself. It's as if he rids himself of self and instead finds his identity elsewhere. Perhaps his example is one we should follow. Instead of speaking in terms of “my” and “I,” he speaks of:
1. His Calling (v.1) - Those of us who have been redeemed were clearly called to be Christians (v.6), but there is also another calling on our lives, it's a call of service. As we read in our passage, Paul's particular calling was that of an apostle. All of us have some area of service God calls us to.
2. His Gospel (v.2) - When introducing himself Paul makes sure to center the focus on the gospel and not himself. And we see in our passage that this gospel was promised long before during the Old Testament time period. This should give us a renewed comfort in knowing God is sovereign in all things.
3. His Savior (vs.3-4) - In verse 3 we see the humanity of Christ and in verse 4 his deity. Again, what's important to note is that in the process of introducing himself Paul points others to the Savior. Our identity is in none other than Jesus Christ.
4. His Duty (v.5) - We see here that Paul's duty was a mandate for missions. Paul, and the same goes for us, are to reach out to "all nations."
5. His Resources (vs.6-7) - Paul was always wishing and offering grace and peace to those he ministered and wrote to. It's a great example for us to remember to continually be focusing on doling out grace and peace to others.
Do you dislike talking about yourself? Do you have a distaste for describing who you are? The best remedy for this is to do what Paul did: identify ourselves by God's calling on our lives; His message to us and others; and in the Lord Jesus Christ (our identity is in Him). When we do this with our identity we put ourselves in the background in a healthy way. We rid ourself of self and put the focus where it should be.