The Miserable Christian:
Honestly, I wish I couldn't write about this from such a place as I am. I am growing to hate my selfishness, and praying to see it more clearly. I am finding that often selfishness colors so many of the things I do, possibly everything I do. The tricky thing about selfishness is that it's so easy for it to disguise itself as service to others, justice, or doing what's right. Yet, maybe just maybe if we ask God to reveal our own hearts to us, to open our eyes to our sin, we will see just how selfish we really are. Okay, so maybe you don't struggle with this nearly as much as I do, but if you are sitting here reading this and saying "Nope, not me", then I would encourage you to pray that God would show you the truth about yourself.
Here are just a few ways to know if selfishness are ruling you today:
- You are fighting or quarreling with someone.
"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and you do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and you do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions."
According to James, we fight with other people because we are warring inside ourselves. We want to be right, respected, shown love, treated fairly, given treasures. We want for us. Is there anything wrong with wanting these things? Well, that depends. Do I want them so I can be happy? If I don't get them am I willing to sin against God and man? If so, these wants are idols. Self is my idol, which means I have taken God off of the throne and am putting myself up there in His place. Nothing good can ever come from this.
- You go to church and you are dismayed because the preacher doesn't preach the way you want him to, the music is too loud, or no one notices how much you serve.
I sometimes find myself thinking things like: I wish there weren't so many series, I wish we just spent time going through the Bible verse by verse. Or, I wish we sang one hymn for every contemporary song, they are so full of rich wisdom, and our generation needs more of that. These thoughts aren't necessarily bad, honestly it's good to practice discernment when it comes to choosing a church. It's what I do with these thoughts that matter most. If I go to my pastor and mention that I would love to hear more scripture during the sermons, or ask the worship leader if they would add some hymns to the set, there is nothing wrong with that. It's when our desires for our church become more important than God's desire for our church that things get turned upside down. Assuming you attend a Bible believing, Bible preaching church (this is important), you have to remember that church is NOT about you, or me. I can make requests, but at the end of the day, I trust the leaders to follow God. Maybe God will use me to bring change, but maybe just maybe, God is using them to do His work, and His ways are not my ways. I go to church to worship God, fellowship with other believers, to be fed, and to serve others. If I start to demand that things at church operate the way I think they should, I have lost sight of all of those things.
- Someone around you tells you that you are selfish.
If someone who spends any amount of time with you, and knows and loves you, tells you you're selfish...you probably are. While it can be extremely hard to take the criticism of another, it is important that we ask those around us to be honest with us, and speak freely about sin they may see in our lives. That's why we have each other, to hold each other accountable. If you wonder if you are selfish, you should ask someone around you who knows you well, and that you trust. Nothing is better than having someone you love hold you accountable.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
- When you read the Bible, you want to see what God has to say to you about you. Not in a way that you want God to open your eyes and speak to your heart, but more-so you treat the Bible like it's a fortune cookie or a horoscope.
Much like church, the Bible is NOT about me! Does God give me direction and instruction in and through His word? Thankfully, yes. I have to remember though, that the Bible from the first to last page is all about JESUS. You see, more than any helpful tip the apostles can give, more than the law God gives, knowing Jesus because you have read the Bible and learned everything you can about Him, that changes YOU! My approach to the Bible used to be much more like a horoscope. Today however, I ask God to reveal more of himself, and more of Jesus to me, because He has shown me that, that is all I really need.
- You feel slighted when other people succeed, and you are bitter about the successes of the people around you, because you know for a fact they aren't deserving. Does it seem like everyone around you who doesn't deserve blessing is getting it, while you struggle every day?
Anytime I look at someone else and think they don't deserve something I can know my selfishness is leveling up. The first indicator is that I have the audacity to judge whether or not they are worthy of a blessing. Like I live so much more of a godly life, that they couldn't possibly deserve more than I do. Secondly, it shows me that once again I am focused on my wants and needs. When I struggle, if I throw a pity party and feel like like sucks, I can see that I just don't get the bigger picture. We are told to consider it all joy during trails and persecutions. When our lives our harder than those around us, when we struggle with relationships, jobs, finances, health, we have to focus our eyes on Jesus. God, has a plan for our lives. A plan to make us more like His son, and all of these trials do just that.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
- James 1:2-4
When we take our eyes off of ourselves, and put them on Jesus, we can see clearly. We can also appreciate the work He is doing in us, even when it hurts.
I wish I could say that I have overcome my selfishness. I wish I could say that I have a servants heart like Jesus. I don't! I deal with every single one of these things. I can however say, that I am blessed to know that God has given me the grace to see these things in myself. I pray that over time he will continue to create in me a servants heart, and a thirst for Him that cannot be quenched.
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