This week’s memory verse:
Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
Love does not insist on its own way, does not seek its own, it is not self-seeking, does not demand its own way, is not selfish.
selfish adjective 1: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others 2: arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others… selfishness noun
–Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th Ed.)
Selfishness. It’s all about self. When God’s love is all about others, there is no room for self.
Selfish. Guilty as charged!
In my flesh, my first thought in any situation, conversation, or relationship seems to be: How will this affect me?
Me. Me. Me.
Frankly, I’m getting sick of me and looking at me first. This is one of my major heart-fights lately. Fighting off selfishness and working to look outward toward others.
When I’m where I’m supposed to be spiritually, trusting Him with what comes, believing He has my best interest at heart, I’m able to hear the hearts of others. Willingly step out and do for others without (much) thought for me.
But when I’m tired, stressed, overwhelmed, or feeling neglected, I go straight to default mode: What about me?!
Some days it’s worse than others. But as long as I live in this flesh it will be a battle. The only remedy I’ve found is time facedown on the floor confessing my selfish nature and humbling myself before Him, praising Him as trustworthy, and looking at things from His perspective not mine. It’s the only way to get over me…
Selfishness consumes us. It breaks relationship and makes life more difficult for us. Even though we believe we are fighting for our self and our best interest, we are actually making our lives more complicated. Persistent selfishness isolates us, and we miss out on the gifts of others which have power to enrich our lives.
Read Matthew 16:25
According to Jesus, what do we lose when we fight for self?
What do we gain when we willingly surrender our lives to Him and His way?
Defending self, demanding our own way, leads to complete loss of self. We are self-consumed… literally.
Have you ever witnessed a youngster trying to learn something or do something for the first time or the second? Maybe it is something you’ve done for them up until this point and then suddenly without warning you hear, “I do it!”
And then, when they’ve tried to move the tiny button through its hole or tie the laces on their shoe for the thousandth time and can’t, the meltdown begins.
I’m like that tiny tot sometimes when it comes to having my way… doing it my way. But Frank Sinatra’s lyrics… I did it my way… can get us into some sticky situations spiritually. Yes, God teaches us to do things, but it must always be His way.
Like the mother of a toddler when we yell out, “I do it!” God is faithful to let us give it a try. In my experience, His way is always better.
God never demands His way in His love for us. He loves us whatever way we choose.
Do you find it hard to love others when they insist on their way?
Sometimes we come to a place where we believe our way is the right way, maybe the only way to do something.
In what area of your life do you find yourself thinking, “It’s my way or the highway!”?
Loving others with this approach often stifles the creativity and gifts in others.
Read 1Corinthians 12:1-11
What is the common factor among all the spiritual gifts?
Who determines each person’s gifts?
What are the gifts for?
Each gift God gives has a purpose for the “common good.” It is selfish to consider our gifts as superior or better. Selfish to think we know the way to use them, or our way is best.
What Biblical person comes to mind who used their gifts to grow God’s kingdom?
Name something you are good at, a gift God has given you. Is there someone who taught you this thing you are good at? Who?
Loving others means using our gifts to build up the body of Christ. One of the greatest acts of love is encouraging others to use their gifts too. Is there someone in your life who has similar gifts as you? How can you help them grow in their gift?
Loving others requires putting ourselves not second… not third… not fourth… but last! First we look to God: Father, Son, Spirit. Then we look to all the others around us. At this point you may be thinking: What about me?! He knows all about you and will take care of all your needs. And when we willingly put ourselves last, even become blind to self, then we begin to truly see the needs of others and love with all our hearts.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Matthew 6:33 NLT
This week’s spiritual discipline (Visio Divina):
Visio Divina, Latin for “divine seeing,” is a method of praying with an image. NOT to an image. It is a spiritual discipline where you ask God to speak to you about what you are seeing.
There is a spiritual reality behind every physical manifestation, not only in the natural realm, but in art, whether it’s photographs, drawings, paintings, sculpture, or film. We can’t always see it. Sometimes we don’t recognize the need to ask for understanding. But, the Holy Spirit will speak to us and reveal truths to us when we ask. Even when it has to do with what we see.
This is a picture of the Dead Sea.
First, sit relaxed and take a few deep breaths. Open your heart and mind to God.
Next, gaze at the image. Notice colors, textures, lights, shadows. Stay with the picture a couple of minutes. What thoughts or feelings emerge?
Look again. Let the Spirit speak to you through the image. Lord, what do you want me to see?
Notice any life? Any green plants growing or birds dipping to fish in the water?
What words come to mind as you look at this picture?
The Dead Sea is in the lowest valley on earth, entirely landlocked with no way for the water to move out.
What happens when we do not allow God’s love to flow out of us? When we keep the love for ourselves?
Questions for your Summer Soak journal:
Consider what drives you to be self-seeking.
Is it possible your selfishness is driven by something hidden deep within? Maybe pride, fear, or distrust?
Take a few minutes to ask God to show you the root of your selfishness. Give Him the opportunity to reveal it and heal it.
Lord, help me to trust Your love and provision in my life, so I can freely love others.