Each month, you’ll hear from one of us what we’re reading and a little bit about the book. Enjoy!
Of all of the books I have read throughout my life—novels, biographies, memoirs, theological, social justice, short stories, textbooks—there have been a handful that I truly believe have changed the trajectory of my life. These books have taught me hard truths and have broken me in just the right ways, irrevocably changing my thoughts, feelings, and actions.
The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller is arguably the most spiritually influential book I’ve ever read. This book can be read in an hour—it’s 44 pages long—so it’s my Sunday afternoon go-to read, and I’m left thinking about it for days afterward each time. I try to read this book about once a month, and believe me when I say it gives me a swift kick in the pants every. single. time.
Adapted from a sermon he gave on 1 Corinthians 3:21-4:7, Tim Keller talks about how to live out Paul’s counter-cultural suggestion that we shouldn’t worry about what others think of us, and in fact we shouldn’t even worry about what we think of ourselves. He talks about actively living out true humility, and how to practically move toward self-forgetfulness, embracing the freedom it brings. Friends, this book consistently hits closer to home than I would like to admit.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
“Have you ever thought about the fact that you do not notice your body until there is something wrong with it? When we are walking around, we are not usually thinking how fantastic our toes are feeling today. Or how brilliantly our elbows are working today. … That is because the parts of our body only draw attention to themselves if there is something wrong with them. The ego often hurts. That is because it has something incredibly wrong with it. … It is always drawing attention to itself—it does so every single day. It is always making us think about how we look and how we are treated. People sometimes say their feelings are hurt. But our feelings can’t be hurt! It is the ego that hurts—my sense of self, my identity. Our feelings are fine! It is my ego that hurts.”
“When [Paul] says that he does not let the Corinthians judge him nor will he judge himself, he is saying that he knows about his sins but he does not connect them to himself or his identity. … He refuses to play that game. He does not see a sin and let it destroy his sense of identity. Neither does he see an accomplishment and congratulate himself. … So, although he knows himself to be the chief of sinners, that fact is not going to stop him from doing the things that he is called to do.”
“The essence of gospel humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.”
“Wouldn’t you like to be the skater who wins the silver and yet is thrilled about those three triple jumps that the gold medal winner did? To love it just the way you love a sunrise? Just to love the fact that it was done?”
“Every single day, we are on trial. That is the way that everyone’s identity works. … Some days we feel that we are winning the trial and other days we feel we are losing it. But Paul says that he has found the secret. The trial is over for him. He is out of the courtroom. It is gone. It is over. Because the ultimate verdict is in.”
You can pick up your copy of The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness at your local LifeWay store.
Have you read The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness? What did you think? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Heather is an optimist, coffee lover, and guacamole enthusiast from Michigan who currently plants her feet in the sweet, sweet south. Her favorite things include, but are not limited to: lakes, trees, sunshine, good talks, fair trade chocolate, new experiences, and people who think she’s funny.