Find and Replace
"... throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy." Ephesians 4:22-24 (NLT)
There's a nifty editing tool on my computer called "find and replace." It allows me to locate an existing word and exchange it for one more suited to the meaning of my sentence.
At times I wish I had such a feature on my brain; a "find and replace" option that would help me keep my thoughts in a healthy place and in line with God's Word. Especially when it comes to setting my own agenda and getting my own way. (Better known as selfishness.)
Even though I can't press a button and instantly swap out my old thoughts for new ones, I can still apply this "find and replace" process to my sometimes-selfish line of thinking.
When tempted to throw a pity party with only ourselves on the guest list—because let's face it, no one fancies the company of a whiner—let's replace our negative notions with insight from God's Word.
Here are some "find and replace" examples to help pull a selfishness switch-a-roo. When we find ourselves thinking one of the thoughts listed in bold, let's replace it with what God says in the verse that directly follows it.
"If I don't look out for myself, who will?"
"What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows." (Luke 12:6-7 NLT)
"What about my rights?"
"You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being." (Philippians 2:5-7a NLT)
"I'm entitled to my opinion."
"Don't repay evil for evil. Don't retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say, 'If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.'" (1 Peter 3:9-11 NLT)
"I gotta look out for number one."
"Do nothing from selfish ambition 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. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:3-5 ESV)
"Who cares about them? It's all about me."
"I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God." (Philippians 1:9-11 NLT)
"But what about what I want?"
"Carefully determine what pleases the Lord." (Ephesians 5:10 NLT)
How about it? Could your thought patterns benefit from some "find and replace" therapy? It is sure to center our minds on God and, as a result, make our relationship with Him—as well as with others—healthier, happier and whole. Let's pursue an unselfish and God-pleasing attitude. Find and replace.
Dear Lord, at those times I'm tempted by selfishness, may I align my thinking with Your will and Your Word. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Why is it so easy to let our thoughts and resulting actions be selfish in nature?
Was there a time when you intentionally chose to not be selfish even though you wanted to be? What happened?
James 3:16: "For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil. (HCSB)