I have recently been pondering how we as believers are so often obsessed with being selfless. Let me be perfectly blunt: every one of us came to Christ for completely selfish reasons. We didn’t want to face hell in the future, we were convicted of our rottenness because of sin, and wanted to be restored to God in right relationship. Our reasons were all for self. Has anyone ever come to Christ for His sake? Yet, Jesus has met us in our totally self-centered condition and accepted us there.
We are created in the image and likeness of God, but we are also distorted because of sin. God’s desire is to be the center of all things but not for the same reasons that we are self-centered. It’s not for His gain; He desires to be the center of all things for OUR good. He is not like us! (See Psalm 50:21) In our fallen distorted condition, we also desire to be the center of all things – for our own benefit, not for the benefit of another.
The life of Christ is selfless, but in my flesh I am selfish. When I set out to be selfless, I end up being even more selfish because it is ME in the flesh trying to be something. The only reasons I have for being selfless when I walk in the flesh are to promote my own agenda, my own reputation, my own kingdom, my own glory, and my own righteousness. I love others in order to gain acceptance, significance, recognition and approval of men, and to be loved in return. In other words, when I attempt to be selfless in the power of the flesh, I am nothing but pure pride and am more selfish than ever. I am not thinking of my self less (often); I am thinking more about me!
So how do we overcome this? Who can save me from this body of death? Thanks be to God for Christ Jesus His Son. Christ’s life is selfless. If I will walk in Him as I have received Him – for selfish reasons -- turning to Him to meet all my selfish needs and desires, He will fill me up. His life will begin to flow out of me and I will become more characterized by selflessness. But it will not be me doing it; HE will be doing it through me. The reality is, the more obsessed I become with Him, and the more I turn to Him to meet my own needs, the more open I become to Him. I live with my heart open and my ear tuned to Him. When He speaks, leads and prompts, I respond to His leading because I cannot help but do so. However, I am so wrapped up in my life with Him that I am strangely unaware of how selfless I am becoming, and the excellence is of God, not us. I’m just an old earthen vessel – an old cracked pot – but I am full of rich treasure. I am speaking of a great mystery, that is, “Christ in you, the hope of Glory.” (See Colossians 1:27)
Verses for Reflection
John 5:44 CJB How can you trust? You’re busy collecting praise from each other, instead of seeking praise from God only.
I John 4:19 CJB We ourselves love now because He first loved us.
1 Thessalonians 3:12 And as for you, may the Lord make you increase and overflow in love toward each other, indeed toward everyone, just as we do toward you…
Galatians 5:25 Since it is through the Spirit that we have Life, let it also be through the Spirit that we order our lives day by day.