me, myself, and I

Sunday evening, I was playing with a toddler from my church. We were messing around with rocks, piling them up and pretending that they were dinosaur eggs and while we waited for them to hatch we would name them all. I thought up some names like Viking and Dim and Maher-Shalal-Hashbaz, but in the end, he decided to name them all after himself. Naming dinosaur eggs rocks may not seem like a weighty thing, but how we act in the little things shows how we will act with the big things; and I was struck once again by something God has been showing me in my life and in our culture – our focus on self.

>>>

When I look at a photo, who do I look for first?

Why is it that I complain when the Internet is a few seconds slow?

What is my reaction when a sibling steps on the back of my shoe?

Why do I make excuses?

Who do I think deserves the largest helping of dessert?

Why do I look in the mirror?

Whose interests am I looking out for most?

>>>

A few years ago, my siblings and I were having problems with selfishness. We were looking out for our own interests and not the interests of others. We were wrapped up with pleasing ourselves. So my parents sat us down and read us the story of Abram and Lot.

“And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land. So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.” And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.” – Genesis 13:7-11

Such a simple story. Two choices were made. One was Abram’s choice. He saw that he and his nephew needed to part ways, and so he looked at the land. And he gave Lot the choice. If Lot went to the left, Abram would go to the right. If Lot went to the right, Abram would go to the left. Now it was time for Lot’s choice. And when Lot saw the land that was well watered and green, like the garden of the Lord, he took it. Two choices, one that was selfish, one that was not.

And now let’s look at what happened to them.

And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.” – Genesis 13:14-17 

God blessed Abram and gave him both the land he had chosen and that which Lot chose. He promised to make a great nation out of him.

Meanwhile, in Genesis 14, four kings came to war against five kings, and the group of five kings fled before the four, leaving two of their cities, Sodom and Gomorrah – where Lot went to dwell after he parted with Abram – and all that was in them. When the four kings came to take the cities, they took Lot and his goods too. And who had to go get Lot out of this trouble? Abram. Abram and his servants risked their necks to save Lot out of the hands of a king, in whose hands he fell because of one choice.

That wasn’t the end for Lot. He went back to Sodom, living among men who lived immoral lives. Three men came to destroy Sodom, but they made a stop at Abram’s tent first. Once again, God promises to Abram that he will have a son and that through him, a whole nation would be on the face of the earth. Then God tells Abram about the plan to destroy Sodom because of its extreme wickedness. Abram pleads with God on behalf of Sodom. God promises to Abram that if there are 10 righteous men within the city, He will not destroy it.

But God did not find the ten righteous. Lot had not tried to tell the men that what they were doing was wrong. He did not warn them to repent. Instead, he lived right there with them. And the men of Sodom knew where to find his house. When the two angels came to Sodom, Lot was there at the gate, ready to invite them to stay in his home, and the men of Sodom were there at his door, ready to break it down in their sin. Lot called them his brothers. Lot gives them his daughters. Lot pleads with his sons-in-law and they think he is joking like the boy who cried wolf. Lot tarries with the men to ask for a better place to which he can flee. Lot’s wife looks back and becomes a pillar of salt. Lot has sons by his daughters.

How did things come to this? One choice.

One choice.

One choice to benefit self.

>>>

When I look at a photo, who do I look for first?

I look for myself.

Why is it that I complain when the Internet is a few seconds slow?

I think I need to be served, and right now. 

What is my reaction when a sibling steps on the back of my shoe?

I get annoyed.

Why do I make excuses?

I make excuses to make myself look better.

Who do I think deserves the largest helping of dessert, or anything?

I do, of course.

Why do I look in the mirror?

I look in the mirror to see myself.

Whose interests am I looking out for most?

I look out for my own interests. 

This is not how it should be. 

In Eden, the man and his wife made excuses and blamed one another for a choice made to satisfy desires to please themselves. Self had taken over. It was no longer the love for others that drove mankind to make choices, it was our selfish ambition and conceit. It was no longer lowliness of mind that dictated our relations with those around us, it was pride. It was no longer an esteem for others that we possessed, it was our own vanity.

This is not how God created us to be. 

He created us to be holy, but one choice ruined us. Since then mankind has been making choices for self. Look around you. Look at our culture. We are so self-focused! The reason we can’t wait for slow Internet is that we want what we want now. The reason we have mirrors is to puff up our own vanity. The reason we get irritated at every little thing is because we are so pampered. If we miss a meal, we complain. If we don’t like to deal with coffee on our shirt, we sue. If we lose one luxury or comfort we put life on hold to replace it. We kill babies because we don’t want to deal with them ourselves. Facebook, YouTube, i-phone. So many of our choices are made to accommodate self, to satisfy self, to feed self. From that choice in the garden of Eden, we have been making millions of other choices to satisfy our selfish wants. And that is why God sent His Son. Jesus entered this sin-cursed earth to pay for the millions of choices driven by selfish motives. He made Himself of no reputation, made Himself lower than the angels He created, came in the likeness of man, yet rather than being sinful and selfish, He came as a bondservant. He humbled Himself and was afflicted even to death on a cross. He became the curse. And with that one choice, He freed us and became the Firstborn of many brethren who would fill the face of the earth.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. 

A mind so focused on Jesus that our first thought is not to please ourselves. A mind so others-oriented that there is no room for selfish ambition or conceit. A mind so humble that it is willing to be a servant.

A mind that looks unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who endured the cross, despised the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

What do we have in which we can take pride? Nothing, absolutely nothing! The only thing in which we can rightly boast is the cross of Christ Jesus our Lord. So let’s put it first! Let’s give up those interests of ours and let His take over!

One choice ruined the world. One choice saved it. And continuing till now, mankind has been making both kinds of choices. For others, or for self.

Be an Abram. Let the mind of Jesus Christ be in you.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  who, being in the
form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 
but made Himself
of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.Therefore God also has highly exalted Him
and given Him the name which is above every name, 
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth,
and of those under the earth, 
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:5-11

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4 thoughts on “me, myself, and I

  1. Wow. This hit the nail on the head for me and some thoughts I’ve been considering of late. Thank you for sharing with us, Esther! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Rach! ❤ All glory to God.

      Like

  2. Thank you for writing that. I have always been very selfish. It’s good to see that, and then correct it. I will start doing something about it next time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad this was helpful to you! 🙂 Press on!

      Like

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