“What am I living for: myself, my own position, money, place, power? Or are my powers at the disposal of human need? At the disposal of the kingdom? Again I ask, what am I living for: myself or others?”
“This last test of character comes to the root of the matter. In the final analysis, what controls my actions--self-interest or Christ-interest? In the deepest citadel of my spirit, who gives the final word? Do I or does Christ? The answer to that determines whether I am a Christian or not.
And what is the issue? It is this: If I dominate my life, it will disintegrate--I shall lose it. If Christ dominates my life, I shall find it--it will come back to me integrated, happy, and useful.
If my desires dominate me, I shall be drowned in my own desires. I shall have my way, and then I shall loathe my way. When self is on the throne, its inner subjects are unhappy, discordant. That self may be a very refined self, it may be a very religious self--it may even be an apparently serving self--but if it is on the throne and makes the final decisions, then as sure as fate, I shall lose my life. My life needs a master, but self is not the master that it needs.
Hush your heart and ask yourself this question: Who has the ultimate say in my life--self or Christ? Am I self-directed or Christ-directed?”
E. Stanley Jones
Once again, Jones leaves no wiggle room. Christians are Christ-directed. A person who is not dominated by Christ-interest is not a Christian. Period. That settles the matter as far as Jones is concerned.
I think he’s got a strategy here. He’s trying to bring the reader to a point of repentance and surrender. Maybe someone could read the first four self-examination questions and come under no conviction. However, I doubt anyone would claim to be Christ-directed at every moment.
The honest answer is that our lives are a mix of self-determined and Christ-led moments. We give thanks for the times when we’ve let faith guide our behavior. We repent over the times when we were selfish. I think that’s what Jones is after in the end. Not a definition that separates real Christians from fake Christians, but a question that humbles us and inspires us to ask for divine assistance in the management of our lives.