From Selfish to Selfless
by Joseph Franks
Lucifer is a selfish individual. He cares not about giving God the glory due his name. He cares not about the damage he has done to Adam, Eve, and their progeny. Satan winces not at the cursed condition of the planet. No, Lucifer only has eyes for himself. He is consumed with his own pleasure, power, and promotion.
Herod, as presented in Matthew 2*, is a selfish individual after the model of Satan. He too is consumed with his own kingdom. Without remorse he plots, lies, pretends to be religious, and commits mass murder in order to pursue his interests.
By nature, we are much like these two selfish leaders. We are not interested in submitting to God’s Law. We are not interested in becoming less so Christ can become greater. No, we wish to worship ourselves, and we demand others worship us as well. We have no desire to treat others better than ourselves, and when it comes to forgoing our own rights and privileges, or washing the feet of our neighbors, or feeding our enemies, we become offended that God would even consider asking such of us. In our natural wicked condition, we are selfish, proud, and deeply in love with ourselves. Consider the following diagnostic questions:
- Why are we slow to flee temptation, say “no” to sin, and obey the written decrees of God?
- Why is it hard for us to give adequate time to God’s worship and the edification of our church community?
- Consider how we complain and become bitter as the Sovereign Lord allows hard circumstances to dominate our life.
- Let us look at our marital conflict and ask ourselves the question, “What is it that causes such conflict?” Would not the conflict be largely avoided if I were totally selfless?
- Let us look at our checkbook and ask, “Why do we give away such paltry sums?”
- What is it that causes strife and disunity in our church?
- Why do we need to see the spotlight on ourselves whether on the ball field or in the board room?
- Consider our children, even the youngest of them; is not selfishness rampant in their lives? Have we not done a good job of producing and discipling selfish hellians?
However friends, all is not lost. Consider the good work of Jesus Christ. Not only does he save us from the condemnation assigned to Lucifer and his friends, but he changes our character and makes us less Luciferian. Due to the atoning, justifying, and redeeming work of God, we are declared selfless. He was crucified for our self-interest. Then, due to the sanctifying work of God, we get the privilege of seeing ourselves grow in selflessness.
We begin to look more and more like Mary who willingly gives up her future for the Lord’s service.
We see ourselves making decisions like Joseph who loves, listens, leaves, and lives according to the direction of his Sovereign Master.
Yes, we become less like the Judean King and more like the Gentile Magi who willingly sacrifice in order to worship and adore. Through God’s grace, we become selfless promoters of God through our softened hearts, changed walk, bended knees, and open hands.
Therefore brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, let us repent again. Let us see the Luciferian or Herodian selfishness we exhibited yesterday and reconcile with our offended Father. Then, let us then go to those we have harmed and seek their forgiveness as well.
Then, let us live differently. Let us look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith and persistently request his aid to walk worthy of our calling. Today, let us focus more and more on Christ and our neighbor so that we have less time and interest to focus on ourselves. Let us walk in the Spirit and ask him to grant us freedom from seeking independence, seeking praise, complaining in trial, demanding our rights, over-estimating our fun, and hoarding our possessions. Today, let us go ahead and practice living as we will in heaven — perfectly glorified, looking just like Jesus, void of selfishness, happy to sacrifice all for the glory of God and the good of our neighbors.
* Matthew 2 ESV Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.