Quit Looking at Yourself!

July 19, 2014

It is so hard to escape the gravity of being self-absorbed. We fixate both on our sin and our “victories.” C. S. Lewis encourages to look the other direction:

We should, I believe, distrust states of mind which turn our attention upon ourselves. Even at our sins we should look no longer than is necessary to know and to repent them; and our virtues or progress (if any) are certainly a dangerous object of contemplation. When the sun is vertically above a man he casts no shadow: similarly when we have come to the Divine meridian our spiritual shadow (that is, our consciousness of self) will vanish. One will thus in a sense be almost nothing: a room to be filled by God and our blessed fellow creatures, who in their turn are rooms we help to fill.

— C. S. Lewis

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5 Responses to “Quit Looking at Yourself!”

  1. phfs9 Says:

    This is an encouraging but confusing article…”for me”. Wouldn’t it be great if I could do that – if we all could do that. However, speaking from the direct experience of being a human, I find it impossible to attain except in spurts…”because I am human”.

    It seems to me that if I were able to actually do this I could achieve a sin free life….and what human can do that. On the one hand it screams Narcissism and on the other hand it screams a total lack of Conscience.

    At times remembering a sin helps to keep me from going down that path again or helps to keep me from continuing down that path. At times remembering a good and sweet moment in life that I was part of creating reminds me that God works within me for all things and brings a bit of sunshine to my soul in a world full of darkness.

    Perhaps I am not embracing the intended lesson of this article. If not, then I “don’t get it”.

  2. Mark Says:

    I don’t see that what you are suggesting, especially in your second to last paragraph, is that different from what Lewis is advocating. He is talking about “states” of mind. A state is a place where we live for an extended period of time. We need to repent of our sin. As far as the good stuff is concerned, if there is any it is solely by grace. It should lead us back to him. All Lewis is saying is that it is easier to follow the light when you are looking at it (him) than it is when we are looking at ourselves.

  3. phfs9 Says:

    I guess I am a lot like the IRS….I evidently took a simple thought and made it complicated and therefore must have taken it out of its intended meaning status. When “you” state the meaning of the article it is easier for me to follow than when I read the article.

  4. Mark Says:

    Your comments always help me think through the issue myself. Thus I ALWAYS appreciate what you have to say. Since Paul says that we are to forget what is behind, and the writer to the Hebrews tells us to look to Jesus (fix our eyes on Jesus, NIV), I always appreciate reminders pushing me in this direction. If I look too much at myself I end up either discouraged or proud.

  5. phfs9 Says:

    Heeeyyy!!! It is nice to serve a purpose (making you think more). I have this bad habit of putting a question in statement form. Hope I am not being a pain in the fanny.

    You absolutely hit the nail on the head when you wrote that looking too much at yourself ends you in discouragement – I can definitely relate to that. But, then, there are times when I need to take a look at myself and don’t always want to see what stares back at me. One of my prayers is for discernment not just for situations in life but with myself as well.


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