“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.”
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.
Joseph A. Franks IV is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is Pastor of Palmetto Hills Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina. This article first appeared on his blog, and is used with permission.