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What will it be today? Will you choose selfishness or selflessness?

No doubt this is one of the most challenging aspects of following Christ.

Why is it so hard to choose selflessness rather than selfishness? Why is it so difficult to begin a day committed to serving a particular person, showing kindness in a particular way, or putting another person first?

Consider this scenario. You have prepared for a special outing with your family – a trip to the zoo, a long-awaited-for vacation, a local field trip, you get the idea. You wake up with anticipation of children who will enjoy the planned activity.  In your mind there’s joy ahead – happy children, grateful children, satisfied children, cooperating children. Yet as you begin to wake the children, it begins. One of them does not like the breakfast choice you’ve made, one doesn’t like his or her outfit you’ve chosen, or another fusses because younger sibling has turned the room light on too quickly. As these things begin to build, before you hit the front door, you regret wanting to ever do anything for or with your children, much less spend money, time, and energy on them.

Ever been here or at least close to here?

Why? What makes living for Jesus Christ and others so much harder than selfish living?

Inherently you probably know this answer. Even though we love others and have a deep desire for them to enjoy life, enjoy grace, and enjoy the best God has to offer, when it requires selflessness, it becomes incredibly difficult. Each of us in our own ways wish serving others was easy.

Maybe this sounds like your logic.
“I’m happy to serve someone, if they just show appreciation.”
“If she would only say thank you, this would be easy.”
“If they would just get along, I would be happy to take them.”
“Why does it seem that no matter how hard I try and sacrifice for them, they still ruin it by fighting, fussing, and complaining?”

In light of this, how can we win the battle of selflessness over selfishness?

Look to Jesus.

He is our example. As Paul in Philippians challenges us to “let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4), he points us to Christ. “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.”

How does Jesus exemplify for us what selflessness looks like in life?

As God, Jesus chose to not hold on to His exalted status of deity in heaven but instead became a servant, came as a man, and laid aside the divine prerogatives of being God (Phil 2:6-7). Instead of demanding all the glories of heaven, He chose earth. Instead of all the benefits of His position as God, He chose servanthood. Instead of basking in the praise and honor of the heavenly hosts, He chose the ire of the Pharisees.  None of this because we deserved His love or sacrifice. In fact, this was contraconditional – the exact opposite of what we deserved. Grace. Mercy. Selfless.

As man, Jesus lived for God’s will to be done. In humility, He submitted to God and His plan. In obedience, He chose to die as a sacrifice for sin. Not just death though, the worst death possible in His day, death on the cross (Phil 2:8). Incredible.

What does that mean for your day? How do you handle the battle between selfishness and selflessness?

Let me suggest three ways you can begin to win the battle of selflessness over selfishness.

First, keep your focus on Jesus Christ. Meditate on the cross today. Consider what Jesus did for you then, what He does for you now, and ultimately what He will do for you in the future. Recognize the significance of the cross for you in light of eternity. Reflect on the power, significance, and weight of the choices Jesus made as the God-man to come to earth. Worship Him for the love He demonstrated in His selflessness – even though we deserved nothing good, earned nothing good, and, even now, often live for ourselves instead of Him.

Second, pray for the selflessness of Jesus Christ. Use some of these prayer requests as your own.  This is just a sample list. Use these to get you started on your own.

  • “Lord, please grant me greater appreciation today for Jesus’ sacrificial work on the cross.”
  • “Please give me the courage to live for you when everything in me desires to live for myself today.”
  • “Please let me see the benefit of living selfless like Jesus rather than for myself.”
  • “Lord, grant me the humility today to live in light of the cross rather than for my own will, my own desires, my own comfort, or my own way.”
  • “Lord, help me notice the places today where I choose selfishness over selflessness. Please grant me the wisdom to repent quickly. Then help me to change my attitude, my words, or my behavior to reflect the beauty of selflessness over selfishness.”
  • “God, please lay the weight and comfort of Jesus’ choices to come, to serve, to obey, to die, and to live for You on me today. Help me be motivated by the great love and care of my sacrificial Savior today.”

Third, do at least one more thing today than yesterday to help you become more selfless rather than selfish. Call a friend to check on them. In a line, let someone in front of you. Invite someone to help hold you accountable. Send a text of encouraging words to a friend. Share something. Offer to help someone. Pray for the concerns of someone else. Hold a door open for someone. Smile. Then smile again. Wave at a neighbor. Just intentionally begin somewhere.

Join the Conversation

Add your voice to this conversation. What are other prayer requests could you pray to help you become less selfish and more selfless? What else could you do to become more selfless today rather than selfish?

Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey