By Brian K. Jones
It was a wonderfully spiritual morning. My sons and I had a wonderful prayer session, which we do every morning as I take them to school and I was feeling close to my Father in heaven. My heart was rejoicing in all the things. I love being in this space! The feeling of oneness with Him. A closeness that gives me that peace that surpasses all understanding. I pulled into the grocery store parking lot and wouldn’t you know, God opened up the perfect parking spot, close to the entrance. “Thank you, Father!” I walked in with a song of praise in my heart and a smile on my face. I grabbed a basket and headed to the produce section. There I found a beautiful bunch of Kale for my wife’s salad. They were perfectly green and crisp. Just like she likes them. “Thank you, Father!”
As I ventured on to pick up some other items, an older woman was walking toward me. As full of the love of God, as I was, I spoke… “Good morning!” She peered at me with a look of utter disgust. As if my speaking to her offended the very core of who she was. I smiled and walked on thinking to myself, “OK… maybe she was having a bad morning. Bless her Father!” I was happy, because times past, I would have had a sour attitude and maybe even would have said something derogatory, But God was good and no devil was going to shake me off the space I was in. I got my items and headed to the checkout counter. Only to find that there were two lines open and about twelve people waiting. It’s amazing how quickly one can be taken from a spiritual mind to a carnal one in a matter of moments. After standing in line for all of forty-five seconds. I could feel myself becoming agitated. “They have to do better than this,” I thought. The song in my heart had become a bunch of sour notes. My joy, I traded in for frustration. It seemed as if with every minute I waited in line the further I became from that spiritual mindset I was in when I entered the store.
This is an example of how quickly we can become selfish if we are not consciously focused on the goodness of God. The enemy is subtle and just as cunning, but the selfishness of my flesh opens the door to his trickery. Who was I to complain? Why was I so impatient? At what point did I even consider those who had been patiently waiting before I even got in line? The bad part is… I didn’t even see that I was placing myself over others. I was high-minded, in that, without saying it, in my heart I was too good to stand in line. I was too good to be kept waiting. It never dawned on me that I put myself before those who were in front of me. Now, I don’t know for certain what they were thinking, but I know me and the look on my face told my selfish story. Yet God is good! Even in the midst of my spiritual immaturity, He loved me enough to allow another one of His children to bring me back. This sweet little old lady said out loud, “Thank you Lord for patience.” I felt so bad. I failed the simplest of test. I didn’t sacrifice my flesh. I was simply selfish!
The love of money is indeed the root of all evil, but the love of self comes in a close second. We are a selfish and vain people. The mindset of this “Me First” world, is truly destructive in many aspects of our spiritual lives.
It is so easy to take for granted our ability to reason and rationalize things in this natural world, but as believers it is a detriment to us to live by these reasons and rationalizations. Some may say, “What’s the big deal? Or it’s not that deep or serious!” The big deal is, as the bible tells us, that it’s the little things that open us to the big things. The fruit that Adam and Eve took a bite from, of itself, was not a big deal, but the disobedience that motivated selfishness was and is today. There is a progression to things. In many cases, a positive progression, yet in others a negative one. We teach are children to pick up after themselves, be polite and share. If they are consistent with this, they progress into positive characteristics. Just as if we teach them that a little white lie is okay from time to time or not to be concerned with others, that progression opens the door to negative attributes. Why? Because the more we do something, the easier it is to do it, whether good or bad.
The bible gives us the tools to fight the behaviors that result from placing the desires of the flesh above the desires of God. It explains where it comes from, how it influences our decision-making and reveals to us the fruit it bears. We have to be careful, as Paul eludes to in Romans 8:6-8, not to be motivated in thought, concerning what drives our actions toward selfishness. In Galatian 5:19-21, immorality, impurity, indecency, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies), envy, drunkenness, and carousing are listed as the works of the flesh. These things will keep us from inheriting the Kingdom of God. As you take in the words, I want you to Selah; calmly sit and think on these things. Measure these thoughts by the principles of God’s word. Allow the Holy Spirit to show you how your selfishness is manifesting itself in your life. Whether you can identify yourself in the example or not, we all have selfish ways and it is our responsibility to crucify the nature of our selfish flesh daily.