Sunday, March 17, 2013

Meet My Monster!

The longer I live, the more I conclude that I must be the most selfish person alive. To be safe, I’ll say that at least one other person on the planet is more selfish than I am, but that’s just to avoid a sweeping generalization. You can go ahead and assume that I’m the most selfish person you know.

My Selfish Monster has done a great job of disguising herself for most of my life, though. You see, I’m not selfish with my stuff. If I’ve loaned you something, I don’t mind if you forgot to bring it back. If you want something I have, I’ll gladly give it to you.

And I’m not selfish with my money. I once gave $100 to a guy I knew was swindling me. I’m a sucker for sob stories and good causes.

I’m certainly not selfish with my words (he he). What I mean to say, is that I’m generally not selfish with my talents. I know what I’m good at and I love finding opportunities to share my gifts with others.

You can see how easily I have convinced myself that I don’t have a Selfish Monster?

The problem is, you can’t be tempted to be selfish about things that don’t matter to you. Just like you can’t call yourself brave to fight a battle that you know you’ll win. If there’s no sacrifice in your giving, then there’s no selflessness in it, either.
I’ve come to recognize my selfishness in the areas that I look out for myself instead of someone else, when I seek my own good above the need of another. And that trait is evident in just about everything I do.

I plan my day according to what I want to get done.
I cook meals according to what I want to eat.
I drive to stores that I want to visit.
I spend time with people that I prefer to be with.
I pursue activities that I enjoy doing.
I fill my calendar with people, events, to-do’s, and pursuits that suit my interests and serve my needs. I avoid interruptions, projects, and people that conflict with my goals for me.

I don’t care about holding on to material possessions or money and I believe that talents are meant for the good of others. So it doesn’t really cost me anything to give those things away. The real challenge is believing that I’m not here to please myself.

Put another way, do I believe that my life is not about me?

I claim to follow a God named Jesus. A God who willingly put aside all the power of his omnipresent being in order to walk in human flesh, with human limitations (like hunger, sleep, and even the temptation to be selfish). Instead of showing off his greatness and expecting people to worship him, Jesus humbly, quietly, sometimes even secretly, served people. He served them to death.

Jesus had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Instead, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—a criminal’s death —a crucifixion.

If this Christ now truly lives in me, then I can only regard myself in the same way that Jesus thought of himself. Rather than run my life in selfishness and conceit, I must take on the humility of Christ and consider others as more important than myself. I am compelled to care about others as much as I care about myself.

And I care about myself A LOT. But Jesus cares about me - Jesus cares for me - a whole lot more than that. Which is why I am able to not focus on serving myself - because Jesus has got that part covered (and WAY better than I could do!). Instead, I am FREE to live my life in service to others.

The apostle Paul put it this way: Now I have been set free from sin (selfishness!) and I have become a slave to God. This will make me holy and lead me to eternal life. Sin pays off with death. But the FREE gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus my Lord.

Take that, Selfish Monster!  

What about you? What kind of monsters do you keep hidden? How do you fight them?

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