The area of Sydney where we grew up is known for terrible traffic, beautiful bushland and fancy private schools. Each school comes with it’s own pompous and profound school motto… usually in Latin. That’s how you know it’s deep.

Barker College – Honor Non Honores
“Seek honour above rewards.”

Abbotsleigh – Tempus Celerius Radio Fugit
“Time flies faster than a weaver’s shuttle”.

The boy’s high school I went to decided that Latin was perhaps too pretentious for the average Government school, and instead opted for a ‘King James’ style, “Know Thyself”.
On the schools website, the principal writes:
“Our school motto, Know Thyself, reflects the idea that within each individual lies the capacity for self-discovery… and in doing so… to fulfil their potential.”


I can see what they’re going for.
And in an age where we’re told we need to “find yourself” or “live your best life”, perhaps it’s quite appealing.
But can a gap year, social media quiz, or contiki tour tell you who you are?
And even if they could, is an inward and individual pursuit to know ourselves really the goal?

There’s an interesting thing that I discovered about my old school motto.
“Know Thyself” is actually an Ancient Greek principle.
Some attribute it to Plato, others to Socrates, and to a variety of other philosophers.
They don’t know who said it, but it was popular.
And this Greek word ginṓskō “to know”, is the same Greek word that Paul uses in his letter to the Philippians Church:

”I want to know Christ
— yes, to know the power of his resurrection
and participation in his sufferings,
becoming like him in his death,
and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

Philippians 3:10-11

Not know thyself, but to know Christ.
And to know him is to experience suffering and glory.

Now that makes more sense of our lives, more than any personal pursuit or self-discovery exercise.
We experience death and life,
suffering and glory,
and often they’re intermingled.

But knowing Jesus we see him bring life out of death and glory through suffering.

We all long to know who we really are. We find what we’re looking for not by knowing ourselves but by knowing Jesus.
And by knowing him, we discover our true selves.

This is an excerpt from the sermon I Press On. For more, watch the message online.

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