Over the Christmas holiday, I had a conversation with a friend that I keep replaying in my mind. What we were talking about is very simple- in theory- and perhaps one of the hardest battles that we fight as Christians. I think that in the United States, surrounding by so many tempting distractions, it is even harder- denying self.
Jesus is teaching the disciples and talking about his suffering and death. Then he says the following words in Luke 9:23-26
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Corinthians, Philippians, James- all of these books of the Bibles warn Christians about the trappings of selfish ambition- and how it can take us down a path that does not honor God and can lead others astray.
James 3 in particular- see these verses (13-16):
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
The battle against self is fought every moment of every day. That desire to indulge in food beyond what I need, the tendency to spend my day looking forward to time that I can spend doing what I want, not consumed with caring for other people’s needs (my children and my family in particular) and then people from church and friends.
Do you ever avoid answering the phone b/c you really don’t feel like talking to someone- though you know they may need to talk to you?
Maybe instead of reaching out to someone, you stay home and read a book or watch TV shows instead of being a listening ear for someone who needs a friend?
Do you find yourself annoyed by interruptions in your day rather than prayerfully being watchful about who God might want to use you to minister to today?
I was feeling convicted about this today- and thinking again about how I need to use Scripture to combat these feelings of selfishness- I deserve it-type feelings that raise to the surface at times.
If we look at Jesus as our example-He spent His life prayerfully seeking God and taking some time to rest- but a great deal of His time was spent teaching, and serving those around Him.
Just to have a bit of His passion and sense of purpose- to eagerly approach opportunities to serve God and be a witness to those around me. That is my prayer today.