Selflessness vs. Selfishness

These two words go hand in hand…and the true measure of who someone is in Christ is the ratio of how they apply them to their lives.

Selfishness is something that we all become familiar with when we are children.  Children are versed in being selfish at times – mostly when there is a toy they want to play with.  Look at a group of young children and you will usually find selfish behavior, and parents spend many hours on trying to teach their little ones the importance of sharing.

Being selfish carries over to our adult lives as well.  We find ourselves wanting what is best for us, not necessarily for others.  We will even walk away from situations when we have a feeling that it will not turn out in our favor.  We have a problem…look at Biblical examples:

Judas – He let his selfishness get the best of him, enough so that he was willing to trade Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Jonah – was asked to go and preach to the people of Ninevah.  He ran, was swallowed by a fish, and then finally made it to minister.  This is where we stop the story most of the time…we neglect to mention the selfish nature of Jonah after he ministered to the people.  He then went up on a hill and waited for the destruction to come, because he wanted nothing more than to prove he was right.

Selfishness runs rampant throughout our country today, with people seeking their own benefit, and never giving of themselves to help others…never being selfless.

Selflessness comes from putting others before ourselves.  People who are selfless will give you the shirt they are wearing if they believe you can benefit from it better than they can.

There are a number of people today who live selfless lives, giving to charity, giving of their time and money to benefit others.  There are a number of people who are even willing to give of their lives so that others can hear the Gospel.  One of the best examples that I can think of today is a missionary.  Someone who gives up the life that they have here to travel to a run down, third world country to minister to people who have never heard the good news of Jesus.

These are people who understand what being a Christian is all about…people who imitate Christ Himself…many of whom would die for the cause of their Savior.

Christ gave all He had to save a lost and dying world…He came to seek and save the lost, obeying His Father to the point of being hung on a cross for sins He didn’t commit.  Jesus was the best example of selfless living that we can find to exemplify how our lives should be modeled.

Our true heart is shown in which of these we live the most.  Each of us has both selfish and selfless tendencies, but which are we seeking?  Are you seeking your own? Or, are you seeking to follow in the footsteps of Jesus?

Examine your heart, which are you?  I challenge you to be selfless rather than selfish, just as Jesus was.

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Better Days Ahead

I know that many struggle at times with uncertainty in their lives. Uncertainty of where they are, how they got there, and even what to do to get out. One common misconception when it comes to struggling with difficulty is that we have a sin in our life that has caused it. This doesn’t have to be the case; in fact, I would venture to say that in most cases it is not the situation at all.

Take a look at the book of Job if you don’t believe me. Early in the book we find that the devil felt that Job was successful in life and able to serve God because he had everything going for him:

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” – Job 1:8-12 (ESV)

We see a couple of things in this passage that I want to focus on this week. First, that we do not necessarily have to have a sin in our life as a reason for why things are seemingly going wrong in our lives; it could be that Satan has taken notice of us because of our relationship with God. The next thing we see is that God will allow the testing of our faith, but will not allow us to be harmed in the process.

If you are following the will of God you will get the attention of Satan, because he can’t stand for someone to follow the will of God. Satan will leave you alone if you are already out of God’s will because he doesn’t need to work to get you where he wants you, but someone who is striving to live a life that is pleasing to God, as was the case for Job, will grab Satan’s attention and he will do what he can to try and cause you distress.

We can hold on to hope today in our suffering that we will be taken care of by God, and He will not allow us to be harmed. God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11 holds true in the story of Job, and will hold true in our story as well. God looks after His children, and no matter what trial we are facing, we have a promise today that it will not be something that will harm us. It may hurt when we lose a loved one, it may sting if we lose a job, and it may seem like our world is upside-down when life seems to slap us in the face, but according to scripture, all of these things build our perseverance and lead us into a joyous life with God.

The beauty of the promise is that we are given a hope and a future. We see that Job was doubly blessed in the end, and we can know that God will do the same for us. He will make our trials a blessing. We must learn to praise him through the storms in our life and take every opportunity to thank Him for the trials that are molding us into who He wants us to be. Today, take the chance to ask God to show you ways you can praise Him through the tough times in life, because, it is the tough times where we can see that there are better days ahead.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

Dealing with Stress

What can we do? We strive to be responsible and take care of our own problems, but many times we fail to realize the struggle that we are facing is bigger than we can handle on our own. We tend to struggle our way through many problems unnecessarily because we don’t want to be a burden to anyone else.

But who do we think we are? We feel that many times we are going at it alone…we feel that we are above certain situations, and at times feel that we can tackle all our problems. What we do not think about how much simpler our lives could be if we would simply put aside our pride and call on God to guide us through our problems.

We tend to think that we have to handle things alone, but God has made a promise to us in His word that we do not have to handle our problems alone…in fact, we don’t have to worry about them because of this promise that God has made. Jeremiah 29:11-14a states, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.”

God promises us that we will find him if we seek for him with our whole heart, and if we feel we have problems that are too great to face, we need to seek for him and ask God to show us what is best. He has laid out a plan for our lives that is truly in our best interests, but the issue that we face today is that we tend to think that our lives are under our control, but we lose control when we stop relying on the one that has all control.

One thing we need to remember is that pride is a problem when it comes to dealing with our mental and spiritual health. If we get wrapped up in the struggles of life and neglect to trust God to get through we put unnecessary stress and strain on our minds, our relationships, and our bodies. Stress is a hard thing when it comes to our physical and mental health, and the only true remedy is putting our trust in God to help us through. Allowing God to take the reins and steer us in the proper direction.

Sure, medicines have come along that will give us a sense of happiness and help us to decompress and temporarily fight through a tough situation, but when the medicine wears off, we are back at square one, fighting our way through once again. The only way to truly overcome our stressful situations is to take them head-on and trust God to work beside us to get through them. This reminds me of the story that many have looked to called “Footprints in the Sand.”

“One night I had a dream…I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonged to me, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of my life flashed before us, I looked back at the footprints in the sand.

I noticed that many times along the path of my life, there was only one set of footprints. I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life. This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you would walk with me all the way; but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why in times when I needed you the most, you should leave me.”

The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child. I love you, and I would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

Remember today that you are not alone, and when you put your trust in God today, it is then when He carries you through.