This morning I was sitting outside and just thinking about selfishness, and thinking about how it shows up in my own life. I started thinking about how I could get better in this area and how I could help others in this area. It is sad to me to see people so self-absorbed these days. On your phone all the time, facebook, social media, putting your kids in front of video games for a babysitter, families sitting in a restaurant on your phones, living room on your phones, bedroom on your phones, instead of just simply communicating with each other as we did before cell phones. It just makes my stomach turn that people cannot even call and talk to people these days; they are texting all the time. You cannot even call somebody these days that they are not on their phone, or computer, not even listening to a word you say. Wake up people…TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE, YOU ARE MISSING OUT ON YOUR LOVE ONES LIVES, AND TRUST ME LIFE GOES BY WAY TO SOON.
So, let me ask you, are you a person that obsesses about how things are in your home that you can’t even enjoy life because everything has to be so perfect, you wear yourself out cleaning all the time? Do you worry about a speck on the floor, or, are you glad that someone is there with you to put a speck on your floor? Are you someone that talks about yourself all the time, or, do you take the time to get to know others and ask them about their lives? Do you even know the people in your lives, have you even taking the time to get to know them, do you know anything about their life, or, is the conversation continuously about you? Are you the person that is continually complaining, grumbling, looking for something wrong to be able to gripe at somebody about, or, are you the person that possesses the fruits of the spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).
Let me say; I too was that person that wore myself out cleaning all the time, but not anymore. Not saying you should be a pig or anything, but just be able to enjoy life without making yourself so freaking crazy, you have got to get your priorities straight! I love to have my children come, we get flour everywhere baking cookies, I love seeing their footprints on my hardwood floors, at least they were there to make a mess, and now I have the memories we made together instead of worrying about my house so much. Now, the sweetest things in my life are seeing my little grandson Kyler’s fingerprints on my T.V where he stood eating his cheerios. When he was at my house in Chattanooga and he put his little hand at the bottom of my T.V. I usually would have been the first one to get the Windex, but not anymore. I left his tiny fingerprint on the bottom of the screen of my T.V. so now every time I look at it, I just smile at the memories of him being there.
Let me just say, in this move we just made, I have learned that all the “stuff” we packed into about 75 boxes it is just “stuff.” I wanted to have an estate sale before we moved and sell off everything in the house, so we didn’t have to move it. I told Ronnie, you know all this “stuff” is not what is important; we cannot take it with us when we die. Well, guess what “news flash,” everything in your home will one day end up at a dump or a thrift store, think about that. I concluded that I want to declutter my life, and I want to focus on what is important to me, such as my family. I want to see my children more, and I want to see my grandkids more. I want to do in life what matters, which is family and helping other people. I want to lift people up, I want to encourage people, I want to be a light in a dark world. I want people to see Jesus in me, and I want people to see when I walk into a room a light and hope.
Now, ask yourself, when you die, what do you think the essential part of your life will be that you left behind for others to remember? What will they say about you at your funeral? It is what we do in between the dash that matters. 1963 -2090 hahaha I am going to live forever. If this is the case, I would be 127 years old. So, what is the most critical thing in the dates on your tombstone? What you do in that dash is up to you, you have one life and two choices. 1. Stay stuck in your past, carry bitterness, hate, guilt, shame, and whatever other baggage your carrying. Or, 2. Use your struggles for God’s glory in helping others, never quit, no matter how many times you fail. Learn that in bad times, God still has a plan for your future. Learn how to compliment others lives and make them better. Let someone life be changed because they crossed your path. My choice is to choose life, and we are going to get a home when Ronnie gets a job….But God, this is going to happen! I am going to declutter my house, our life, and everyone that has been a cement brick around our leg that drags us down daily.
So here is the next step. We need to die to self and work on no longer try to get our own way or try to get people to look up to us. We need to stop offering unasked-for advice as if in self-importance and thinking, we always know better than others. We need to let go of trying to make a good impression on others. We have to find freedom from self-focused life. We need to stop spending our lives conjugating three verbs: to want, to have, and to do. Quite simply, when we die to self, we’re no longer obsessed with self.
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. (Php 2:1-4 NLT)
The Bible says that we are created in the image of God. You! You are made to be like Him. If you embrace that, then you will realize you were made not to be selfish, or self-absorbed, you were made to serve, to help, and to be there for others.
Here are some scriptures for you to hang on as you are going through the process of change.
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 (ESV)
Could I honor others above myself (Romans 12:10)? But this issue went even deeper: Could I be secure in God’s love without public recognition? Could I let God be in charge of my reputation? Was God’s approval enough for me? After this early exercise in dying to self, I eventually found myself relying on God more in small things. I was finding life–the companionship and partnership with God that I longed for.
Here is an excellent story that will help get this point across:
The story is told of a wise Cherokee brave who sat quietly at the side of his grandson. The grandfather and the boy sat in the warm glow of a small campfire. Perhaps the older man had noticed a spark in his grandson that a wind might stir into an uncontrolled blaze. There is a battle fought inside the heart of each man,” the grandfather said. “It is a battle between two wolves. “One wolf is evil. It is filled with hatred, envy, greed, impatience, deception, despair, fear, and rage. “The other wolf is good. It is filled with love, gratitude, generosity, peace, joy, honesty, patience, hope, and kindness.” The grandfather paused and waited. The grandson’s locked his gaze on the fire. The grandfather watched out of the corner of his eye. He could see the boy thinking. When the right amount of time had passed, the grandson turned his eyes toward his grandfather’s and asked, “Which wolf wins?” Their eyes still connected; the grandfather offered this simple answer: “The one that you feed.”
So, here are some good habits of love that will help get you started. There are seven habits to cultivate to the selfless, self-sacrificing love that God gives us:
1. Choose love. Make a conscious choice every day to love. As you start your day, receive God’s love with gratitude. Invite God to cultivate His kind of love in your heart by His Holy Spirit Thank God for loving you enough to allow His Son Jesus to suffer and die for your sin. Thank God for reaching out across the universe to rescue you from being lost forever, and to bring you home to live with Him for eternity. And savor the simple blessings you receive each day, like air to breathe, clean water to drink, and food to eat.
2. Welcome love. When we’re expecting guests in our home, we spend extra time cleaning. We want to give our guests a warm welcome. We want to show them respect. That’s one way we show we care about them. When we choose to love, we’re inviting God to send His Spirit as a guest into our lives. The apostle Paul said our body is a temple for the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). The Bible records God’s instructions for the care of our body temple, including what to think about, what to listen to, what to watch, and how to eat. Following these instructions equips our brain to work better, making it easier to manage our thoughts and emotions so we can love more.
3. Contemplate love. Spend time each day, observing perfect love in action. Read the Bible and witness the amazing love of God for humanity. The most significant expression of God’s love is seen in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. My favorite is John because it reads like a love story. But evidence of God’s love can be discovered on every page of the Bible. Look for it, find it and dwell on it.
4. Practice humility. Choose the smallest piece of the pie. Give someone your seat. Apologize for your mistakes. Forgive people who wrong you. Do work that is “below your pay grade.” Pride is the most significant barrier to receiving and giving love. We tell ourselves we don’t need love. We convince ourselves others don’t deserve our love. We need to receive the mind of Jesus Christ, who acted as if others were more important than He is (Philippians 2:2-7). To obtain the mind of Christ, we need to stop resisting it. We resist the mind of Christ by persisting as if our way is the essential way.
5. Practice kindness. Compliment your spouse and your children. Pick up someone else’s dropped item and return it to them. Allow the car alongside you to merge into your lane. Kindness softens our heart toward others. The King James Version of the Bible uses the word “gentleness” instead of “kindness” when describing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
6. Practice patience. Patience requires that we accept that some things are out of our control. Patience also requires that we not try to control others. And patience sometimes requires us to wait and allow things to move at their own pace. To accept something is to acknowledge that it is what it is. It’s like gravity–no matter how much you want to change it, it’s going to be there as much as it was before you tried to change it. Accept that your family isn’t going to be ready for church at the same speed as you. Accept that you and others will not learn at the expected pace, and will forget stuff and make mistakes. Accept that the traffic will move at the same speed, no matter how much you honk the car horn or how hard you slam your hands against the steering wheel.
7. Give generously. Give someone else the last piece of the pie. Pay for your coworker’s lunch. Buy that one thing your spouse has been wanting, instead of that new gadget you’ve been dreaming about. It’s been said that real generosity is measured not by how much we give, but by how much we have leftover.
We hope you get something out of this devotion,
Ronnie and Christie Bruce
Keynote Speakers and Author
Ministry Leaders at:
Hope Knows Your Name Ministries