English: John the Baptist baptizing Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Selfish Scheme
(The Trick of I)
Paul tells us to be poured out like a drink offering, Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow Him. We are called to be longsuffering.
1Peter 2:19 “For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.” (NAS);
2 Tim 2:3,9 “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” “…for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained…” (NAS);
Ro. 5:3 “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.” (NLT);
Job 36:15 “But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer. For he gets their attention through adversity.” (NLT);
Is. 53:3 “He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” (NAS);
1 Thess. 1:6 “So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord.” (NLT)
My point is that we are called to suffer for the sake of Christ. So when we tell ourselves and others that the only thing that matters is whether they are happy or not, it is not true. What matters is how we serve God! Serving God takes selflessness, not selfishness. If we focus on ourselves I guarantee that you will fail and fall in areas of your life. Let’s ask ourselves this, why did Jesus suffer?
FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS!
Why do you follow Jesus? I think that we would be shocked to find that most of the time the answer is, “because of the gift of salvation.”
THIS IS SELFISHNESS!
God loved us while we were still sinners, 1Jn. 4:9-10 “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (NIV).
Jesus died for us even though we are unworthy, Ro. 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (NAS).
He is forgiving, He is gracious, He is merciful, Ps. 78:38 “But He, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity and did not destroy them; And often He restrained His anger And did not arouse all His wrath.” (NAS).
Shouldn’t our answer to why we follow Jesus is because He first loved us when we were not worthy of that love? That Salvation is the gift that we receive because we love Him and want to serve Him?
Why would Jesus do all this? Why would He sacrifice so much for us? Because it wasn’t about Him! It was about saving us! It was about showing us how we ought to live. Don’t you think that Jesus could have come to earth and been a sacrifice without having to go through all of the trials and sufferings that He went through before the cross? Don’t you think that He could have been that perfect sacrifice without being treated badly by people? Why would He go through all that? Because He wanted to leave us with the example of how we are to live.
Heb. 10:10 “For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.”(NLT);
1 Jn. 1:3 “what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (NAS);
2 Pt 3:11 “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,” (NAS);
1 Thess. 4:1 “Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more.” (NLT);
Ja. 4:15 “What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.”(NLT);
1 Cor. 15:34 “Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all.” (NLT);
Ex. 18:20 “Teach them God’s decrees, and give them his instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives.” (NLT). SELFLESSLY, NOT SELFISHLY!
We make everything about us; even helping others. We don’t volunteer in ministry because it is not our “calling”, we won’t feel good about it. Sometimes we need to fill in the gaps till someone that is “called” can take it. But what about us? What if we are not happy? What if we are not blessed? The Bible has this to say;
1 Pt 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (NLT);
Pro 5:23 “He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness.” (NLT).
I hate to be the one to break the news to you but, IT DOESN’T MATTER! Your happiness is not important! Titus 3:14 “Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive.” (NLT). To meet the urgent needs of others so that we will not be unproductive (in the NAS it says so that we will not be unfruitful). It does not say meet your own urgent needs so that you can be happy. We are called to be selfless. This is the example that we are given throughout the Bible from OT to NT.
If you want to call yourself a Christian then I would suggest that you learn what it means. The word Christian means follower of Christ. Or imitator of Christ. This means to be selfless.
We are all called and gifted by God in different ways. We are all one body that is supposed to be working towards the same goal; to win souls for the kingdom of God. No one is more important than anyone else. 1 Cor. 12:4-31 lists what the gifts are and then goes on to say that all parts are equally important. Remember back in our study on the Armor of God, we talked about if one part of the armor is damaged or missing that the armor would not be able to function the way it was intended? Well it is the same with the body of Christ (the church). If we are all clambering to get to the top, if we all want that head seat than we are failing. We are all given gifts, talents and abilities. And trust me for those that are called to be leaders and problem solvers and advice givers, it is a burden most days. They stand alone, always wanted but never needed.
So when you call those people or person in your life time and time again for help or advice; SIT BACK, SHUT UP AND LISTEN! After all why are you asking them in the first place to help you or give you advice if you do not think that the advice will be sound or godly? If you see that the advice or counsel that you are receiving is not godly than walk away and do not seek them out again. If the advice is sound and godly than take it. Do not grumble about the words that are used because it may have convicted you, listen to the message. Perhaps the person that you have just gotten advice from has the gift of wisdom from the Holy Spirit. (1Cor. 12:28). Perhaps this person has been appointed by God to be a leader in a sea of followers. But we in our selfishness systematically tear these people down, we undermine the very message that God is trying to give us.
We stumble in darkness. We go to the people around us that emit light. We seek relief from the things that bother us. Then when the very light that you have sought out exposes the darkness that is within you (your sin) you criticize the giver of the message. You tear them down, you gossip, you talk behind their backs.
Let me give you an example here. Ladies when we look into a makeup mirror that is all lit up, and it shows all of our flaws what is the first thing that we say? “This light makes me look awful!” Not that the reflection that we are looking at is our true reflection, it has to be the lights fault for making us look that way. It cannot be the choices that we make in life, it cannot be the decisions that we make that have a negative impact on our lives; no it is the light. I can smoke for 20 years and look like an old handbag, but it is the fault of the cigarette maker, not me for making the decision to have picked up smoking in the beginning. Are you seeing the picture that I am trying to paint here? Pro 20:27 “The LORD’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.” (NLT). It is the Lord’s light that exposes us, not the giver of the message!
This is the very thing that we do to the people that we get advice from, that we seek help from. If don’t like what they have to say we make it about them. About how they are the problem, not that it is our choices that have gotten us into our situation. If they tell us what we want to hear than they are awesome! If not, then we sputter and grumble and complain about them. 2 Tim 4:3 “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” (NLT).
Come back tomorrow for part 3.
As always, God Bless you till we meet again…