The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness (Book Review)

Written by Michelle Watson

June 25, 2024

You’ll love it if
the shackles of self-love and self-hate are too heavy to bear

This book review contains affiliate links. Here’s my disclosure policy.

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness

By Timothy Keller

Writing Craft
Moral Value

A short piece of much-needed truth in our age of selfie syndrome

I listened to this audiobook in one day, and then I turned around and listened to the last chapter again, and I’ll probably listen to it again.

My husband and I are teaching a seminar for 20-somethings next month, and the subject is “the change,” as in Christian transformation, living as a new creature, undergoing the renewal of the mind. This was beautiful food for thought in developing the seminar content.

What does it look like to live a Christ-transformed life? One HUGE indicator is that mature Christians don’t think about themselves all that much. They don’t think less of themselves. They don’t think more of themselves. They think more about God and others than they do about themselves. This, Tim Keller says, is blessed freedom. I couldn’t agree more.

We are constantly looking for signs that we are important and valuable. We live good, Christian lives in order to achieve our “righteous” merit badges. We look to others for validation—I’m reminded of the tortured Anna Karenina asking her sister-in-law, Dolly, again and again, “What do you think of me?” Keller compares this to being in a neverending courtroom, where we are on trial, and we are looking to others (or to ourselves) for a verdict, an answer to the question: Am I a good person?

Keller says we have to get out of the courtroom. How? We accept God’s verdict of us.

When we believe in Jesus as our Savior, then we are beloved children of God. That is our identity. This verdict comes before any “performance” on our part—the act of faith, the choice to believe in the gospel results in God’s final verdict on our identity and worth. We are His children, loved, and accepted. THEN the transformation happens. The verdict OUTFITS us for the performance to come, the “enduring to the end.”

We step out of the courtroom, no longer trying to prove our goodness, and we are free to stop obsessing over our self-worth and turn our precious focus upward and outward, where we find joy and freedom.


More along these lines…


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