December 22, 2020

Forced Choice: Will You Be a Snake or a Worm?

by | Would Jesus Wear a Mask?

The Lord Jesus cannot live in us fully and reveal Himself through us until the proud self within us is broken. This simply means that the hard, unyielding self, which justifies itself, wants its own way, stands up for its rights, and seeks its own glory, at last bows its head to God’s will, admits its wrong, gives up its own way to Jesus, surrenders its rights, and discards its own glory—that the Lord Jesus might have all and be all. In other words, it is dying to self and self-attitudes.

As we look honestly at our Christian lives, we can see how much of this self there is in each of us. It is so often self who tries to live the Christian life. (The mere fact that we use the word try indicates that it is self who has the responsibility.) It is self, too, who is often doing Christian work.

It is always self who gets irritable and envious and resentful and critical and worried. It is self who is hard and unyielding in its attitudes to others. It is self who is shy and self-conscious and reserved.

No wonder we need breaking. As long as self is in control, God can do little with us, for all the fruits of the Spirit (they are enumerated in Galatians 5), with which God longs to fill us, are the complete antithesis of the hard, unbroken spirit within us and presupposes that it has been crucified.

Being broken is both God’s work and ours. He brings His pressure to bear, but we have to make the choice. If we are really open to conviction as we seek fellowship with God (and willingness for the light is the prime condition of fellowship with God), God will show us the expressions of this proud, hard self that causes Him pain. Then it is that we can stiffen our neck and refuse to repent, or we can bow the head and say, “Yes, Lord.”

Brokenness in daily experience is simply the response of humility to the conviction of God. And inasmuch as this conviction is continuous, we shall need to be broken continually. And this can be very costly, when we see all the yielding of rights and selfish interests this will involve, and the confessions and restitutions that may be sometimes necessary.

For this reason, we are not likely to be broken except at the cross of Jesus. The willingness of Jesus to be broken for us is the all-compelling motive in our being broken too. We see Him, Who is in the form of God, counting not equality with God a prize to be grasped at and hung on to, but letting it go for us and taking upon Him the form of a Servant—God’s Servant, man’s Servant.

We see Him willing to have no rights of His own, no home of His own, no possessions of His own; willing to let men revile Him and not revile again; willing to let men tread on Him and not retaliate or defend Himself. Above all, we see Him broken as He meekly goes to Calvary to become men’s scapegoat by bearing their sins in His own body on the tree. In a pathetic passage in a prophetic psalm, He says, “I am a worm, and no man” (Psalm 22:6 kjv). 

Those who have been in tropical lands tell us there is a big difference between a snake and a worm, when you attempt to strike at them. The snake rears itself up and hisses and tries to strike back—a true picture of self.

But a worm offers no resistance; it allows you to do what you like with it, kick it or squash it under your heel—a picture of true brokenness.

And Jesus was willing to become just that for us—a worm, and no man. And He did so because that is what He saw us to be: worms, having forfeited all rights by our sin, except to deserve hell. And He now calls us to take our rightful place as worms for Him and with Him.

The whole Sermon on the Mount, with its teaching of non-retaliation, love for enemies, and selfless giving, assumes that this is our position. But only the vision of the Love that was willing to be broken for us can constrain us to be willing for that.

Copyright © 1950 Roy Hession Book Trust, England. We highly recommend purchasing the book The Calvary Road for a full picture of what humility and brokenness can begin in your life as you pursue God.

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