Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Starve selfishness?

Foot washing is hard. I don't know why I should be surprised by that statement. I mean, did Jesus call us to do anything that comes naturally to our sinful natures? Maybe I just always thought of Jesus washing His disciples' feet and thought how noble and self sacrificing that must have been. And I thought in my own life I could do humiliating tasks (like toilet cleaning and diaper changing) and call my imitation of Christ done.
That's good enough, I figured. I've done the job everyone hates to do for the day, so I'm off the hook. I think I'll watch some TV or buy myself that dress I've been wanting. Maybe I'll read a good book or get a pedicure. Surely I should get to do something just for me. Everyone else does.
Selfishness is the language of our culture.
I speak it fluently.
Jesus spent His lifetime here on earth foot washing in a wider sense. He gave and gave. He prayed instead of slept, and then, exhausted, He gave some more. He healed. He taught. He listened. He provided. He nourished. He did all these and more without complaint, without ceasing. Do you think He ever got tired of giving? If He ever wanted just one person to understand His load and carry part of it for Him? Like the time He came off the Mount of Transfiguration after revealing His heavenly glory to three of His disciples only to find that the rest of them couldn't even heal one demon possessed boy. Did He think, "You guys can't just do one thing right for yourselves."
How many times have I thought (and said) that?
Instead of behaving like Jesus, I often let my selfishness dictate my thoughts and attitudes. I inwardly seethe.
"He gets to fulfill his dreams while I sit here listening to his kids scream."
"Why can't they just give me one minute to read the rest of my chapter before I feed them again?"
Then, when I serve because I must, it is not from a heart overflowing with love and praise to God, but from a heart full of anger.
I become a martyr.
"I always have to do everything around here," I stomp.
The question is: is there value in purposely giving up my desires and serving even when my heart attitude isn't right? In a way, that's what some monks or nuns do. They purposely give up desires that are not evil in and of themselves to train themselves to think less selfishly and more about God. But is there value in that sacrifice if it does not come from a joyful heart? Do I serve unwillingly and then receive joy? Or do I do small things that bring me pleasure in an attempt to fulfill some of my desires so that my selfishness doesn't rear it's ugly head out of continual frustration?
Can I starve selfishness?

"Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2


Chip Burkitt said...

Jesus is certainly an excellent model of self-sacrifice. But let us not forget that he also modeled renewal in his own life. After a night of ministry, Jesus got up early in the morning and went off alone to pray. When his disciples found him, they said, "Master, everyone is looking for you." Jesus surprised them. Instead of returning to town to continue ministry to the same group, he told his disciples, "Let's go on from here." Jesus always made time for his relationship with his Father before everything else. He was so dependent on his Father that he could do nothing without him. I don't know if you can starve selfishness, Melody, but you can certainly feed your new nature on the loving presence of your Father in heaven. He will give you all the strength you need as you trust in him.

Anonymous said...

melody, I am so glad that I found your blog. We have had several messages about being a servant. I have come to the conclusion that having a servants heart is what loving GOD is all about. Being a mother brings out the servant mentality in you. I know that sometimes you feel like you need a break from all of the work that you have to do, and that is OK.
I will leave you with this thought. Cheer up, The world can't come to an end. It is round