Romans 14:7-8 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Thinking about it, it’s interesting how often I have reason to tell people that being self-centered/selfish never leads to happiness. We all are born with the tendency to be that way, but emotional and spiritual growth is all about overcoming that and relating rightly to the wider world around us, and most especially, to God. Sadly enough, many people go through life with a mirror a few inches in front of their face, emotionally speaking. All of life is one extended “selfie!” Perhaps cell phones have done us a favor by putting a name and an action to that attitude, but that doesn’t make it any more mature. It is when we grasp, on multiple levels, the truth of what Paul says here that we are able to interact with the world as God intends. One of the blessings God gives us in marriage is teaching us this very truth. The more we focus on getting what we want out of marriage the more it seems to escape us. The more we focus on blessing our partner, the more peace and satisfaction we receive. There are of course some caveats to that: God doesn’t intend for us to be doormats. However, far more marriages are destroyed by one or both partners being self-centered than by any other cause. That said, not everyone is married, but everyone has the opportunity to live for Christ, and that is what Paul is talking about here. It is only when we truly live for Him that we grasp that He lived and died for us, and that awareness is the most glorious thing possible.
As often as I caution other people on this issue, my own tendency to be self-centered is very stubborn. It is a sign of God’s mercy that at least I’m aware of it! I too have the tendency to think that I’m right, period. I too have the tendency to feel that my goals are more noble, more worth striving for, than those of someone else. I too need to be reminded constantly that I am righteous, wise, and good only to the degree that I abide in Christ, and I can’t do that in my own strength. By God’s grace, however it is possible, because as Paul said, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) I desire, for myself and for those to whom I minister, liberty from the traps of the devil, and that will come as we focus on Christ and not ourselves. (Hebrews 12:2)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for using me yesterday to minister to someone who is caught in the devil’s mirrored trap. I pray that they would have the courage to lift their eyes off of themselves and see Jesus, who gave Himself totally for them. I pray that their current circumstances would be a powerful lesson going forward to help them overcome the lies of the devil, not only for themselves but also for those to whom they minister, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!