Sometimes, I feel trapped by myself. As much as I want to turn my gaze completely on the Lord, my thoughts and conversations always snake back to me. Yes, the habit grieves the Holy Spirit. It robs Him of His glory, and goes against so many Scriptures that I don't even know which one to quote! Worst of all, I know this battle against self-love, like all my other battles against sin, won't end until Jesus takes me home.
This struggle reminds me of a sonnet by Victorian poet Gerard Manly Hopkins:
THOU art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
Why do sinners' ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavour end?
Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,Hopkins and I make the same mistake of trying to please God through our own efforts. We might understand that, as a convert to Roman Catholicism and a Jesuit priest, Hopkins would assign himself responsibility for his own sanctification. What's my excuse? As a Bible-believing Christian, don't I know that Jesus provides my victory, even over my selfish sin nature?
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,
Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes
Now, leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes
Them; birds build—but not I build; no, but strain,
Time's eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.
The writer of Hebrews, after chronicling the great heroes of the faith, shows me that Jesus is the key to overcoming even the sin of self-focus.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. ~~Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)If Jesus is the Perfecter of my faith, He asks only that I confess my egotism and rely on His Spirit to change me. He, in His faithfulness, will supply the grace I need to turn my attention back to Him.