I need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, because as someone once said ‘There is no room for God in those who are full of themselves’. There can be no filling if there is no emptying. If I want to have room for the spirit, I need to empty myself of self.
America Preacher David Wilson once said; ‘To mature into Christianity is to mature into self-denial to an extent that society will be unable to understand your actions’. Wow, what a challenge!! I have been focusing lately on my own motives for doing things and asking myself if I am doing them for the glory of ‘me, myself and I’ or for the Glory of God? In Corinthians 10:31 Paul says, ‘Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God’. Yes, it says 'whatever' you do. How many of us can honestly say that we do everything for the Glory of God?
In today’s society ‘self’ has perhaps become even more important than ever before. This is the age of the selfie, a word that entered the dictionary for the first time in 2013. It has become totally normal to take pictures of ourselves to show others where we are, how great we look or what we are doing at any given moment of the day. There are many characteristics that give an indication of ‘selfishness’ or putting oneself first:
Maybe I think I am generally patient, but how often have I found myself being impatient in a traffic queue or a supermarket queue, even when I am not in a hurry? I have found myself wondering why the person in front of me needs to chat with the cashier, or why the waiter is taking such a long time bringing my order. Or maybe I cannot wait for someone to finish their sentence to put my point of view across. Impatience is often a sign of thinking our time is so much more important than someone else’s. We are told in Galatians 5:22 that patience is meant to be a fruit of the Spirit: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness’.
One of the greatest threats to our walk with God is materialism. We live in a ‘must have’ and ‘must have now’ society, where we can often have what we want, when we want it. I was shocked with myself the other day when ordering some cushion inserts online. I was actually tempted to go for the ones that I would receive the next day even though I could get the same ones 5 days later for half the price. I did not give in on this occasion, but I was surprised how tempted I was!! I need to make sure I am not being drawn away from God by using my money for my own desires. God does not stop us enjoying His blessings but too much wealth spent on ourselves can take up so much time and energy that we no longer glorify God. Affluence is a mixed blessing. If used correctly it can be used to glorify God but if used incorrectly it can take our focus off the Lord and what He wants us to do.
God warned the Israelites that they would be tempted to forget Him when they experienced financial prosperity. Deuteronomy 8:10-11 tells us: ‘When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day’ and Deuteronomy 8:17-18 continues; ‘You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me’. But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today’.
We are told in Luke 6:38 that if we give generously, we will receive an even bigger blessing, Jesus says: ‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’. We are also told in 1 John 3:17 that if we see a need and do not meet it, even though we are able, then we cannot have the love of God in us; ‘If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?’ I read somewhere that most of what God gives us is not for ourselves but for the blessing of others, including our time, our talents, our spiritual gifts, our money are all things that God wants us to use generously to bless others.
It is no wonder that self-importance is a problem in our society today. We are constantly being told by the media or adverts that ‘we matter’ or ‘we are worth it’ or ‘we deserve it’. We are encouraged to do a certain thing or possess a certain thing and then we will be special. The bible however has a different message. It tells us to humble ourselves and to put others first. Luke 14:7-11 ‘When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honour at the table, he told them this parable: ‘When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honoured in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted’. If I am not full of self-importance or selfish ambition I will look to the needs of others and want what is best for them. If I imitate Christ, I will put aside my own desires, as He did and I will do what it says in Matthew 7:12 ‘So, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets’. Of course, I want to be treated with love, respect, forgiveness, so I need to treat others that way too.
These are only a few of the areas of selfishness that can enter our lives without us even noticing if we are not careful. So, what can I do to keep ‘me, myself and I’ at bay?
Well firstly, I need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, because as someone once said ‘There is no room for God in those who are full of themselves’. There can be no filling if there is no emptying. If I want to have room for the spirit, I need to empty myself of self. The Apostle Paul was a perfect example of this throughout his life after Jesus had appeared to him. In Galatians 2:20 he says, ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’.
The Bible tells us to not just read His Word but to remain in His Word, Psalm 119:36 ‘Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Let me be focused on your word and your will; not on my will’ and Hebrews 4:12 ‘For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart’.
Being a servant of Christ instead of self means doing everything for the glory of God, dying to self, loving others, coming out of my comfort zone, being willing to help someone when I don’t feel like it, going to places I have never been before, confronting people with the truth…….and so much more!! But for the glory of God, it will all be worth it!!!Author: Thelma Cameron
May God bless and enrich your life
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