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The Freedom of Self-forgetfulness


Book Review: The Freedom of Self-forgetfulness

I recently read the short and easy-to-read book The Freedom of Self-forgetfulness by Timothy Keller.  Not only is it short, it is also only $2 on Amazon Kindle at the time of this writing.  I loved this little work and plan on having copies on hand to give away.  It is a glorious remedy to a perpetual problem in the heart of man.

This book is all about identity, self-esteem, pride and all problems related to the ego and self.  He comes to the problem by examining a short passage in the letter of 1 Corinthians, which was written to a church drowning in many problems related to personalities and the pride of man.  Keller first looks closely at the problem, by noticing that there are two ways this has been viewed.  Traditionally people thought that a high view of self was the problem.  That has now been replaced with contemporary thought that says low self-esteem is the problem.  Keller shows us that the Bible says neither approach is the true problem or the true solution. 

In reality, all the focus on one’s ego and self-esteem is the indication a problem exists in the ego.  Have you been thinking about your kidneys today?  What about how well your elbow is working?  No way.  The only time you think about such parts of your body is when there is a problem.  Same with the ego.  Constant thinking about self-worth and identity isn’t fixing the problem, it is indicating there is problem.  The Greek word used in 1 Corinthians for “pride” is helpful for describing the problem state of the ego; it is empty, painful, busy and fragile.  Keller details the reason for each symptom. 

This work is classic Keller as he highlights how the gospel transforms everything.  Neither the traditional ideas nor the contemporary ideas bring true freedom to the soul, for only the gospel can.   Keller details how the gospel frees us from our self-assessment and from the assessment of others.  The gospel does that by showing us that neither what others think about us, nor what we think about ourselves is the final or ultimate word.  The courtroom that pronounces our worth and dignity has been adjured.  The final sentence has been passed and it doesn’t come from ourselves or from others, it comes from God himself.   Because we are united to Christ, his worth is now ours, his righteousness is now ours, and his position is now ours.  We are so bound to Christ that we can enjoy all that he is for us, all that he does for us, and all that he is doing around us.  We can be so enraptured by his glory, our own ego moves to the background.  It doesn’t need to jockey for position, it already has it in Christ.  Now we can serve, and give, and live in the freedom of Christ without thought of ourselves.

This is a well written work that will bless you.  Buy one for yourself and a couple to give away. 

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