Book Review: The Freedom of self-forgetfulness by Timothy Keller.

Are you struggling with your identity in Jesus? This is the book for you! This little book by Tim Keller focuses on the clear distinctive marks that come out of a person’s heart when their lives have been changed by the grace of God through Jesus Christ and where their new identity is found. He focuses his exposition on 1 Corinthians 3:21-4:7 and he reminds us that the church in Corinth is not different to the church that we see today.


Culturally we desire pride and boasting, making sure our lives are better than anyone else and creating a high view of ourselves but that this view is also our own downfall. Keller draws out 3 points from 1 Corinthians:

  1. The natural Condition of the Human Ego – Our pride can swell up, even beyond a natural point where it leads to emptiness, pain, busyness and fragility. The root cause of our ego is pride because “we are only proud of being more successful, more intelligent or more good looking than the next person.” (P18).This leads to boastfulness. The problem is we can never satisfy our ego because we are always seeking to be better than the next person and our lives can never find rest or satisfaction.
  1. The transformed view of self – Paul in 1 Cor 4:1-2 tells the church that he doesn’t care about the world’s view of him or what other people think of him because his identity is in Jesus. Paul displays great humility, acknowledging that he is a great sinner and realises it is not all about him anymore.“True gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation with myself. In fact, I stop thinking about myself. The freedom of self-forgetting.” (p32)We stop thinking about ourselves and we don’t get hurt from criticisms and opinions because they don’t matter.
  1. How to get that transformed view of self – The verdict we are looking for in life is that we are important, that we are valued and raised up. Paul didn’t care what others thought and he didn’t care about what he thought of himself because there is only one opinion that really matters – God’s. Everyone in the world live within the walls of a courtroom – we are continually put on trial in what we say think and do, but those in Christ, he is the one who gives us the verdict that really matters. In Jesus, we are taken out of the courtroom because our trials, our verdict was placed on him and the cross – therefore we are free – we don’t need to meet what the world expects, only what God expects and because Jesus has done that – we can live in peace and joy!

I hope this little book will give you a sense of freedom and joy, it’s not all about our own thoughts and opinions or what other people think, but it is all about fixing our identity in Jesus for there is freedom and satisfaction in him that the world cannot give.


Author: Urban Curate

I am a Vicar in the West Midlands with a passion to serve Jesus. I'm 30 years old, married with two children.

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