Hi! Thank you for coming back to read another one of my posts. In truth, I will never quit thanking you, because you make what I do possible. You rock. I really hope you have had a fantastic first week of October and that you were able to analyze your prayer life. I hope by doing so, your perspective of God is beginning to shift. If you had an experience with prayer or God revealed something important to you, please share it in the comments below! I would love to hear how He is stirring your heart.
For the past week, I have really been pondering what I should write about. My mind ran around in circles, pondering different ideas and scriptures that I could share. Towards the end of the week I began to get nervous because I had not made up my mind; however, in my years of following God, I have found that He is like the pitcher at a baseball game; he hits you with the curve ball when you are the least prepared to hit the home run.
Since Sunday, I have been diving into the words of Proverbs with my boyfriend, Steven. (At this point, I must make a side note: October has thirty-one days and Proverbs beautifully enough contains thirty-one chapters, which amounts to one chapter per day. Spending time with God these past seven days has been very rewarding, even though Proverbs is sorta like King Solomon’s ADD tweet feed.) While I caught up on the reading Sunday, I was suddenly struck by a verse that I had always shrugged my shoulders at (I will share this verse later in the post). This verse not only provoked me to research the instinctual nature of humans, but also to make my own personal observations surrounding the behavior of students at North. As I watched, every student in their own way confirmed the issue at hand.
On many occasions, I observed individuals around my age exercising selfishness. To clearly paint the picture, I am going to share the dictionary definition of the word selfish. According to Merriam Webster, selfish means: having or showing concern only for yourself and not for the needs or feelings of other people.
Now, I want you to think about your typical day and how you would answer these questions.
Do you hold the door open for someone else or do you only open it for yourself and briskly move on?
When someone asks you to borrow a pen or pencil are you quick to loan them one or quick to say no?
When a friend or family member needs you -but you are very busy- do you drop whatever you are working on to meet them or do you say, “I’m rather busy. I’ll have to catch you later.”?
By instinct, we all have selfish parts.
This behavior has almost been ingrained into your mind. From childhood, society has taught you to get to the top, no matter the cost. However, when we open God’s word, we find he says something else entirely about this subject. You can read it in any version you prefer, but in The Message version King Solomon writes…
Nobody robs a bank with everyone watching, yet that’s what these people are doing- they’re doing themselves in.
When you grab all you can get, that’s what happens: the more you get, the less you are.
Proverbs 1:17-19 (MSG)
When I read this verse for the first time on Sunday, it rung in my ears. These words have so much power. I read it… and re-read it again. In any other version I have read, this verse never really struck me, but when I read it in The Message version, I felt so convicted. I think what Solomon is highlighting so perfectly is that by committing selfish acts, we are stepping further away from the type of people God desires us to be.
Here’s what I mean. God calls us to be loving individuals who put other’s needs before our own; these types of people are the people He longs to serve in His kingdom.
Instinctively, though we are selfish and not compassionate, because when we are selfish, we believe it benefits us, which arguably, it does; when we deny that friend who needs our help to tie up our own loose ends, we complete our task at the cost of someone else, which is the exact definition of selfish. These actions become a pattern and this is why Solomon writes, “the more we get, the less we are.” As we continue to sacrifice others for ourselves, we gain all we could want, but we become less as God desires us to be! This is crazy convicting! Do I believe we become less in God’s eyes by being selfish? No, not at all. But do you want to step off the path God constructed for your life by putting yourself first? I know I don’t.
On days where my needs are on the forefront of my mind, I think about Jesus. I envision Him, the Savior of the World, standing against death courageously. I see Him taking up the cross for you so that you may no longer be separated from God. Instantly, I am no longer centered on myself, but rather on others. Would we be able to maintain a relationship with God if Jesus said to Him, “nah. I don’t need to do what you say, because I have my own wishes. Death scares me and I just simply will not sacrifice myself.”? No, we wouldn’t, and this is what blows my mind the most. This is the perfect image of selflessness to get you reflecting on your own life. I do recognize, however, you will not walk around attempting to sacrifice your own life like Jesus did. But what I do know is this: there are a multitude of ways you may sacrifice your needs for someone else’s. When you do this, you will continue to make steps closer to who God calls you to be.
So, I challenge you this week to start small with selfless acts. Open the door for someone, give a friend the money they need to buy a snack, or loan someone a pencil. Small acts, while small, may have the largest impact, not only on that person, but on you too.
If you find yourself struggling, look through the eyes of Jesus and his sacrifice.
Because when you do this, I think that you will begin to find opportunities in which your personality may transition from “first myself” to "first others.”
The Valley. Many of us think when we are standing in the thick of it, “there’s not a very clear view from here and I wish I could just see more.” We wish our view was clearer and we ask God why it isn’t. We lose focus and ultimately hope. We believe there is nothing to see here, when there is everything to see here.
Encouragement is a hard thing to tackle, but what if there was a way to break it down? Encouragement just becomes simpler when looked at through the lenses of faith.