I must confess that it snuck up on me slowly. Perhaps over the course of years really. I didn’t even notice it until it struck me in the face–I am incredibly SELFISH.
Call it what you will–being self absorbed, ego-centric, narcissistic, self-centered–it still comes down to self. Me. I.
I found myself using these words a lot (me, I) and when I purposely tried to have conversations with others without using ‘me’ or ‘I’ I found it very difficult. How disappointing!
It is part of our challenge as human beings and perhaps more so for us North Americans to not always be “looking out for number one” (yes, that is a Randy Bachman song…).
And it is a particular hazard for singles. It can happen quite insidiously. We don’t have to ask anyone’s opinion for most things. We don’t have to take into account anyone else in most of our choices. If I want to go to a movie Friday night with my friend I just go (sometimes HER husband has to be consulted!). If I want to come home and have toast for supper, if I’m OK with it, it’s OK. There isn’t really the need to ‘look out for the interests of the others’ (Philippians 2:4 NIV) when you’re by yourself!
How have I seen this manifested most recently in my life?
I did something very minor anonymously the other day for a stranger and I got so excited and was so proud of myself and thought how awesome a Christian I was! Yes, I know…and it really was a VERY minor thing. So why this response?
The answer was quite disturbing to me: I don’t think of others very often so that when I do it must be celebrated…that saddened me. As a Christian I should ALWAYS be thinking of others. A little mnemonic I learned in Sunday School (head knowledge only, apparently) was the definition of the word JOY–we should think of Jesus first, Others second and Yourself last to have real joy. Hmmm…
Christ, of course, is the perfect example of this.
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped;
7 but, he made himself nothing
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! Philippians 2:4 – 8
And He did all this for others! He did what He did for the glory of His Father, and to bring salvation to us. Nowhere in the Bible do we hear of Christ doing things for Himself. He is always doing what the Father send him to do. He is always doing things for others.
I guess what I’m saying is that it might be very easy for us to fall into this temptation of selfishness because of where we live and because we might be alone a lot but now that we are aware of it we can fight it! God will give us a way out from this temptation!
Perhaps what we need is practice. To be able to run 10k one must do it often and regularly so as to have the endurance, the muscle power and the mindset to do it. Ok, so then from now on I need to practice thinking of others: I will do one thing every day for someone else that they won’t know about. With this goal in mind I will have to keep my eyes open to see where I can help others and for an appropriate opportunity.
I will challenge you to do the same and share your successes (and failures…) with me so we can encourage one another in with this goal! Instead of being selfISH, let’s be selfLESS like Christ!