One of my favorite Christian authors is Calvin Miller. I’ve recently been reading his excellent little book entitled, “The Disciplined Life”. One of the things he said that really struck me was, “The difference between what God wants for us and what we ultimately become rests in how we break the thrall of those appetites that chain us to selfish lifestyles and selfish life goals.” My studies this past year have convinced me that selfishness is at the heart of all sin. Perhaps this is not a revelation to you and might even seem rather obvious. But how often do we look at our lives and consider ourselves selfish? Until we come to that realization, I submit we are all living in delusion.
We learn (hopefully) to not be selfish from an early age. Most of us were taught to share everything we had. Few of us enjoyed those lessons, and apparently even fewer of us carried them into adulthood. We like our stuff, and we love having more than the next person. What’s ours is ours; you can go get your own. And this is the exact attitude that must be abolished if we are to ever experience the fullness of God in our lives. If anyone could have ever been excused for being selfish, it is our God. He has only one Son, yet even still, He gave Him up to share with our entire sinful world. Out of His love for us, God held nothing back.
Jesus was repeatedly tempted to be selfish. Satan tempted Him with comfort, power, and wealth (Matthew 4:1-11). People tempted Him to prove He was who He claimed to be (Luke 23:35-37). Jesus wouldn’t bite. His mission was one of sharing the good news of God’s redemption with everyone. He couldn’t do that if He was preoccupied with earthly possessions and desires. The life of Christ was driven by a singular focused mission, to give Himself away so that others could experience the love and forgiveness of God. No matter what it cost Him, Jesus was going to redeem those who had been enslaved to darkness for so long.
God so loved the world that he gave His only Son (John 3:16). Jesus so loved the world that He humbled Himself to give up His glory so that you and I might live (Philippians 2:5-11). And us? Well, forgoing that cup of Starbucks or giving up the house in the suburbs is just a bit much to ask. I mean, does God really expect us to make such dramatic sacrifices in our lives? Doesn’t He want us to be happy?
I’m convinced that God is far more concerned that we be holy than He is that we be happy. After all, living a holy life will undoubtedly lead to more happiness than you could ever imagine. We’ve got to let go of our selfish lifestyles and goals. All that matters is Jesus and Him crucified. Nothing we can ever own compares to the matchless beauty of Christ. His love must be given away so that others can experience what it is to truly be loved. We were created to give, not to hoard. To follow Jesus, to be His disciple, means to give everything away. In this there is freedom, and in this, there is love.