God has been trying to teach me something huge the past 18 months. And, in pure human fashion, I have been slow to learn. It got to the point where a couple of weeks ago I more or less pleaded with the Lord, “WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO TEACH ME?! I DON’T GET IT! MAKE IT CLEARER!”
And because God loves me, He did.
He has spent 2 weeks making it perfectly clear that I am selfish, and it’s time I change.
Through scripture, sermons, Bible studies, friends, and the Holy Spirit, God has been gently but clearly saying, “Life isn’t about you.”
I suppose He has been saying this for the past year and a half, but I’ve been hearing it as a polite opinion instead of a non-negotiable fact. Most of the time opinions go in one ear and out the other. What really gets my attention is someone with a megaphone 3 inches from my face belting out, “LIFE IS NOT ABOUT YOU!”
God is too polite to go that route himself, but preachers often do it for Him, and I am thankful for that. Because the majority of my American life tells me life IS all about me. So I need someone louder than the noise of the world and of my own selfish nature to get my attention.
Philippians 1:21, it turns out, does not read, “To live is, to die is gain.” No, “to live is Christ…” The very point of our existence is to glorify Him, not satisfy ourselves. Every choice we make should be with Him and furthering His agenda in mind. Where we live, what we do with our money, how we spend our free time… We are to live every moment with Him in mind.
Philippians 2:3 doesn’t say, “Do everything out of selfish ambition and vain conceit.” No, “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit…” Not one single thing! NOTHING we do should be motivated by what’s in it for me.
Gonna brush your teeth? You shouldn’t do it to have a pretty smile; you should do it to take care of the body the Lord has given you. Gonna apply for a higher position at work? You shouldn’t do it so you’ll have more money to buy more things you don’t need; you should do it to have the opportunity to bring a Christlike influence to more people in your company. Gonna have that third kid? You shouldn’t do it because you have two girls, and you really want to have a boy; you should do it because you are committed to raising children who love Jesus and make an impact in this world for Him.
The rest of Philippians 2:3 doesn’t read, “In hubris consider yourself better than others.” No, “in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Not equal to, not the same as, but better than you!
The elderly person driving 20 under the speed limit in front of you? Better than you. Your spouse that won’t clean the bathrooms? Better than you, too. Your boss that drops huge projects on you at the last minute with no regard for the 1,000 other things you are in the middle of? Also better than you.
(Ok, they aren’t actually better than you, but you’re to act like they are, per scripture.)
Jesus said if we want to follow Him, we have to deny ourselves (Matthew 16:24). He wasn’t speaking in some spiritual hyperbole. He wasn’t referring to abstaining from things for piety’s sake or to earn religious points with God. He was referring to serving Him and others with our whole beings.
Because Jesus knew what we/I often forget. LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME! It is about the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This whole circus we call life is for Him – to know Him and to make Him known (John 17:25-26).
Let’s operate through that filter today… and every day.
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