And what are we to make of all this? This, our earthly existence, this, the self upon which life centers and revolves, the glad prism through which our gods are made and served. How hard it is to follow God when first our friend is self. How should I deny it when always finding it near, it demands as it does to satisfy itself? Such I find myself on equal footing with every man. Here, I am informed no man is better or worse, only nearer or farther from God as he's able to deny the demands his gods and goddesses crave.
How obvious, then, is the answer we cannot earn our heavenly reward. Self, being that which earns is also that we must confront, to remove it as an impediment between us and God. Oh, how self flowers and rears upon my soul its presence when delicate as it is, it becomes so easily bruised by another's slight, to point, perceived as so. Let me give thanks God reminds me of its poverty.
Joyful is the day when I can look at self and say, "I will not follow thy wishes."
A little tale tells.
Prosper Jones was at war with himself -- his self and the self God placed within him. Aptly named, Prosper lived a successful life. Yes, he knew failure, but he learned and developed an image the world loves. He was artful in reframing his story to satisfy his pursuits. This made him rich in earthly terms.
Prosper was a clock-watcher. Time is money he would say. He ranked sins because he knew certain ones could cost his image while some would go unnoticed as most things do when everyone is doing them. Some might serve his wishes. Prosper's self was a filter grounding him in his earthly endeavors, a limit upon the self God placed within. It's not that he never had a good intention. It's just no one ever received it.
Then, one day, by accident, or not, Prosper noticed a small boy, perhaps 8-years-old, separated from his mother. Walking by, Prosper assumed the mother was nearby. Busy and on his way to an appointment, Prosper convinced himself the situation was ordinary. Then, the boy spoke and said, "Mister, can you help me?" Prosper stopped, stared at the boy and looked around for someone else to attend to the boy's question. Seeing no one, he said, "What do you need boy?" "I am lost and cannot find my mother. Will you help me find her?"
Seconds rattled away along with Prosper's rapid thoughts. He knew he could not escape his dilemma. Oozing into his heart, unable to push the feeling away as before, compassion began to well within. Crowding out his normal, cold detachment, he took the boy's hand and said to him with a bit more than a tone of assurance, "Don't worry, we'll find her together."
On this day, Prosper's other self, God within, took hold and grew.
"Those who have ears to hear, let them hear" (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).