Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Disease of Self

Let's do a little experiment: go on your Facebook and look up the pictures of that party that you went to last week. You know, those pictures that you haven't looked at yet? Yeah, those. Check 'em out and look at 'em one by one. And now let me ask you something:

You've been looking for yourself in every picture, right?


Why? Glad you asked. I believe the answer is pretty simple: we are self-centered.

"No!" you say. "I help other people all the time!"

Hey, don't get too excited, you wahoo! I believe you. I help other people all the time, too. But the question is not about what our external actions show, but what's going on beneath the surface.

But let me not get ahead of myself. The reason that I bring this up is because I'm seeing it pop up in my own life and the lives of others. And the reason I see it coming up is because I keep mulling over Philippians 2:3-4, which says:

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

Now there's two aspects of this that I want to try to explain. The first one is simple and the second one is a little bit tougher: 

The first is that we often will not go out of our way to do things for other people and assist them in life. This is the most obvious point and seems pretty straightforward: most of us just don't focus on helping other people. Some examples of this could be helping your buddy move, sacrificing your time to hang out with someone who is struggling, helping an old lady paint her house, or giving your money towards worthy causes.

In this first point, most people would be able to point to somewhere in their life and be convicted over not doing what they can to help other people.


But what if you're the person that already does all of those things, like this guy?

Well, that brings me to my second idea, which is really where the problem lies: even if we are the person that helps everyone, our actions are often motivated by selfish ambitions. Don't tell me it's not true. And when I say selfish ambitions, it could be anything from thinking that our actions can somehow benefit us in the future, or making much of ourselves because of our "generosity." We take the glory and credit that is Christ's and lay it on ourselves, essentially making us miss the whole point of valuing "others above yourselves!" In other words:

This, at it's root, is a heart problem.

In our flesh, we think, perhaps even subconsciously, that we are the center of the world. As if everything in the universe existed to benefit its smallest member.

I wish I had some clever anecdote or explanation to make this idea crystal clear, but all I have is this: We do not consider others as higher than ourselves because we haven't allowed Christ's love to completely flow through us. If it were, we would love as He loves. Give as He gives. Serve as He serves.

Jesus Christ was a man so directed by the needs of others that He subjected Himself to the death of a bloody cross, ultimately offering salvation to the very people that pierced His body, ripped the flesh off His back, and watched for hours as He slowly died of suffocation. This is why Philippians 2 goes on to say the following about Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

To put it in the words of a famous song by DC Talk, "The disease of self runs through my blood. It's a cancer fatal to our souls. Every attempt on my behalf has failed to bring this sickness under control."

So my question encouragement is this: let this disease be cured by the surgical hands of the Mighty Healer.


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