Each year senior military officers attending the Army War College choose a gift to present to the school. Because of differing tastes, this exercise of selecting a gift proves to be the most contentious challenge each class will face. Typically, students pick a reputable artist and commission that artist to paint a historical event the class chooses. Civil war themes are by far the most popular and sell the most prints. One year when the artist revealed his sketch, one southern student on the selection committee complained that there were no confederate soldiers present. Another member objected that no black Americans were depicted. So they sent the artist back to his canvas. Imagine their surprise when the clever painter produced a beautiful portrait of black Union soldiers guarding sullen Confederate prisoners!
James 3:14,16--But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t brag and deny the truth . . . For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil.
Psalm 119:36--Turn my heart to Your decrees and not to material gain.
Selfishness is like eating a steady diet of candy. It may feel good when we get what we want but, in the end, our rotted teeth and poor health testify to habitually making wrong choices.
Selfishness is an internal fixation on meeting our own needs. Unfortunately, because we are already a fallen race, self-pleasing is inherently flawed. Everyone cannot get what they want without depriving someone else. What makes Jesus so awesome is that He came to earth and abnegated His divine rights, focused on the needs of those around Him, and ultimately gave up Himself to rescue us from ourselves (our sin nature). Find a person in love with Jesus, fueled by a desire to be like Him and you will find a selfless person. In contrast, those who continuously manifest a self-promoting agenda reveal an inability to trust God and a faculty for hurting others.
Selfishness at its core is an unwillingness to believe that obeying God is sufficient. He asks me to put His will over my own, to look at the needs of others before I concern myself with my own things. Jesus’ paradoxical truth teaches me that when I die to self that is when I truly become alive! Often, we don’t realize how subtle selfishness creeps in and corrupts. A good way to test how God-focused we really are is to measure how much of our time and thinking we give Him. Second, is our attitude more often acidic or angelic? There is a reason why God’s perfect painting often differs from our ideas, something to think about . . . in reveration.
Selfishness means that which gives me pleasure without considering Jesus Christ’s interests.—Oswald Chambers in Biblical Psychology
©2004 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)