Because of the Fall (Genesis 3), each of us has a “default setting” when we wake up each morning. The default for you and for me is set to “SELF”. And even after we begin a relationship with God through Jesus, we still battle selfishness each and every day.
In my last post, I shared that the biggest problem in my marriage is ME! Whether I like to admit it or not, my selfishness continually gets in the way in my marriage and in every other relationship I have.
In that post, I also shared five steps that are needed to battle selfishness. In this follow-up, I want to help you and help me to go beyond those five steps as God gives us more ways to fight our self-centeredness.
Surrender Your Agenda:
Pastor Michael Easley says, "To die to self is the hardest part of marriage."The truth is that I wake up every day with some sort of “agenda” for my day. It may be on my calendar or it may just be in my head, but I have an idea of how I want my day to go.
And guess what, frequently my day does not go as I had expected or planned. Whether those unexpected things happen in my marriage, at my work, or with my kids, I can respond to them in one of two ways: 1) I can hold tight to my agenda and try to get my way, or 2) I can surrender my agenda knowing the Lord likely has a better plan for that circumstance.
In those unexpected moments, we must follow the Lord in order to choose the right way. If your day is like mine, the Lord frequently asks us to surrender our agenda and follow His. This is a first step to battling selfishness.
Get a Different Perspective:
Our family watched a movie recently called “A Walk in My Shoes”. In the movie, a Mom was “switched” from her family to be the Mom of another family (one for which she did not have a high opinion). After a few days of walking in that Mom's shoes, she had much more compassion and empathy for both that Mom and her family.
Too often in my marriage, I don't really try to see things from my bride's perspective. I come into the discussion with my view of things without really giving much thought to how she may see the situation differently. It is only when I intentionally seek out her perspective that I can begin to see things that I cannot see on my own. As I often say, “God gave me a helper in my bride because I need help!”
Follow Christ's Example:
The phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” is a good reminder of Who to look to for our example. We would do well to follow His example more often than leaning on our own understanding. Passages like Mark 10:45 speak to us of Jesus' example.
In his book, Starting Your Marriage Right, Dennis Rainey shares: “The answer for ending selfishness is found in Jesus and His teachings. He showed us that instead of wanting to be first, we must be willing to be last. Instead of wanting to be served, we must serve. Instead of trying to save our lives, we must lose them. We must love our neighbors (our spouses) as much as we love ourselves. In short, if we want to defeat selfishness, we must give up, give in, and give all. If we live our lives for ourselves, thinking only of our selfish desires and interests, in the end God gives us exactly what we want: ourselves.”
Marriage provides an opportunity to live, not for ourselves, but for the needs of our spouse, as we model Jesus' example of giving all for the sake of another.
Walk in the Spirit, Not in the Flesh:
If I could only share one thing about battling selfishness for a Christ-follower, this would be it. We cannot expect to battle our natural bent toward self without a supernatural power that is greater than our own strength and ability.
If I am being honest, there are moments each day when I look back and realize “Great, Glen. You just tried to do that in your own strength!” As I look back at what happened, I didn't ask for the Spirit's help or empowering. I didn't pause before or even during the situation to pray for the Lord's help. I just acted as if I was sufficient for getting the task or conversation done. How foolish of me!
It is only when you and I come to the realization that we cannot battle selfishness on our own, that God's power can help us. In our weakness, He really can be strong.
Let's ask the Lord to help us walk in the Spirit moment-by-moment and not in the flesh. You can read more about how to walk in the Spirit by reading this great online article from Cru.
AUTHOR: Glen Solberg is a man who is passionate about marriage - his own and the marriages of those around him! He and his wife, Shawn, have been married since 1992 and have been investing in the marriages of others full-time since 2003.
Written by Glen Solberg, Abiding Marriage, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If you have questions or comments, you can connect with at info@AbidingMarriage.org
Photo Credit: Bogdan Yukhymchuk on Unsplash