“Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” Philippians 2:4 (The Message)
I heard a sermon by our Student Ministries Pastor, Pastor Justin Smelter, regarding selfishness versus selflessness in dating and marriage. It shed additional insight for me into the real reasons behind dating and eventual marriage. When he was done, I was glad to know that this man, with wisdom taken directly from the Bible, was going to be reinforcing the beliefs my husband and I have been talking to our children about while they deal with crazy hormones, crushes, and the difficult task of growing into adulthood.
One of the concepts he taught was the real reason to date and eventually marry. It’s not so much what can I get out of this relationship?, but instead, what can I give to the other person? The more I thought about the concept, the more I realized he wasn’t just talking about opposite sex attraction. He was talking about every relationship we are involved in. Selfish versus selfless.
As it says in Galatians 5:24, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (NIV) What that means is this. When we become God’s children, choosing to submit to His authority first through the salvation prayer and then living a life of obedience to Him out of love, not fear, we are called to a higher standard. Instead of demanding our way, our wants, and our wishes, our mindset should be that of loving others more than ourselves, selflessly loving those God puts in our path and allowing God to be the One to bless us with what He wants us to have.
I was able to put this principle into practice not long after I heard the sermon. I had an argument with a close friend. We were both frustrated and while we were fighting in a healthy way, it was still an argument. Some words were exchanged that stung. It was then I had a choice to make. I could prove my innocence and take a chance I could change this person’s opinion of me or I could hear what was being said behind the words, which was that I’d hurt this person for a period of time unintentionally and it was finally coming out. I chose the latter. I chose to forgive instead of let bitterness grow. I chose to love selflessly instead of rubbing salt in wounds that had been inflicted, unintentionally, in the past. And do you know what I found? I was flooded with peace from God. I was still hurt. My mind still wanted to replay the argument over and over again. I had to counteract those thoughts by consciously switching tapes to remind myself of how this person does love me, warts and all. And the more I chose to actively love selflessly, the more those feelings become real.
The best part is God rewarded that act of submission to His ways. This friend and I have reached a deeper level of friendship, I learned how it feels to listen to the feelings behind words, and as a result, I grew closer to my Father as well.
Even though selfless choices can initially be harder than selfish choices, God showed me they are truly the only choice – when I want to live the life He called me to live. With practice, I’m sure they will become much easier.
© Cheri Swalwell 2014