Monday, May 16, 2016

Obliterating Selfishness

The deer appeared at the end of my eight-mile morning walk yesterday. She stood watching me. I'd interrupted her breakfast, and she was annoyed. Should she run, or could she finish munching the flowers? She did not run, which surprised me. She flicked her tail, but stood her ground. We communed briefly, and I continued on my way. When I glanced back, she was gone. Poof.

After my walk, I held a baby shower for one of the sweet mamas I work with who chose life over abortion. Her small children were so excited to meet me. They had heard of me, as I have been friends with their mama for a long time now, but they had never met me. I warned their mom to tell the little girls I had a "boo-boo" and they should not hug me hard or jump on me. (I bet this is the first time in history a mastectomy has been described as a 'boo-boo".)

The little girls just shook my hand, and in the end, it was I who could not restrain from hugging them. They were so excited about all the gifts, and eagerly helped their mama unwrap them. I LOVE Cities4Life, and the incredible generosity of supporters and donors who lavish so much love on these precious women.

There was another special underlying story. The mama had told me to bring a folding chair, or I would have to sit on the floor. They had NO chairs in the home. The pregnant mama had no place to sit. When I mentioned this to my cities4life team, one generous member offered a loveseat. My husband picked it up, and I surprised the mama with a beautiful plush love seat - the only chair in her living room. She settled into it with a sigh, placing pillows behind her aching back.

Later, I learned this love seat was the cherished chair of my friend's husband who had died a few years ago. She could not bring herself to part with it. But when she heard of the mama's need, she knew her selfless husband would have wanted her to give it to the mama who chose life over abortion.

As I counseled the young couple at the baby shower, we talked about Jesus. I always bring the focus of the baby showers back to God, and His design for the family and for each of us. The young father told me he had recently come to the Lord, and knew that his role as a father now should be prioritized: God first, wife and kids next, then self. He's a new believer, but he sure has that part right.

Most of us may pay lip service to this God-ordained order, but selfish interest sure seems to be the top of most people's list. Think what a difference your day would be like if instead of your own interests, you put God first, and others second. Be honest. I suspect for most of us, our day would be radically different.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2: 3-4

We are not to ignore our self-interest, but none of us need reminders to take care of self. Most of us do that in spades. The Philippians verse above is interesting in that the key to counting others more significant than ourselves is humility. Conversely, the motivation for puffing our own interests above all else is pride.

Pride is nasty stuff. It caused Satan's expulsion from heaven, and the fall of all mankind. Pride told Adam and Eve that their perceived self interest mattered more than God's commands. It is the core basis of all separation from God.

What if I don't feel like others really are more significant than me? What if they really don't deserve me looking to their interests? If you didn't voice that out loud, I will voice it for you. I know I have felt this way. I don't see God making distinctions like that however. So I think we are to behave in this manner: practice putting others first, and pray that God will change our stubborn, selfish hearts.

Remember that deer I met on my walk? At first, I only saw her, stubbornly standing her ground. Then I noticed two smaller deer creeping into the forest behind her. She was waiting till they were safely hidden in the forest shadows before she turned to flee herself. In this way, the good of the herd was preserved.

Ephesians 4:29-32 

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

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