Monday, August 6, 2012

Putting Aside Self

Scottish Heather....a beautiful plant to behold
     One of the greatest needs we all have in our lives is acceptance.  We want to be loved for who we are as a person...not for what we do for someone.
     This was driven home to me a long time ago when I was in grade school in Florida.  My parents used to come to Florida for about three months every winter as my father was a farmer and had this time off.  Of course, since I would be missing school, I had to take classes in Florida.
     At the particular grade school I attended one winter, I met a Jewish girl who was so sweet.  Yet, many of the other students would not even talk to her because she held different beliefs.  Each day, we
began our lunch period with the Lord's prayer (before the banning of prayer in schools).  This girl would bow her head too even though she did not recite this prayer.  She told me that she had a Hebrew blessing for her food.
     Even though our friendship was brief and only lasted one winter season, she told me that I was one of the few people that had accepted her as she was and didn't shun her.  I felt so good about that.  I also thought it was sad that others missed getting to know her as a person.
     Within the Christian community, it is even more discouraging to find some who do not accept one another but often act out of selfishness.  Paul admonished us that we are to put aside self as Christ did in order to minister to the needs and weaknesses of others.  Read Romans 15:1-7:  "Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.  Let each of us please his neighbor for his good to his edification.  For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, 'The reproaches of those who reproached thee fell upon me.'  For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus; that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God."
     Acceptance is like medicine for the soul.  In Christ, we are fully loved and accepted by God the Father.  Why then, can't we, in the Body of Christ, learn to love and accept one another?
     Often, we act out of an attitude of pleasing ourselves over pleasing the Lord by helping a weaker brother.  We cannot show unity and bring glory to God when selfishness rules our homes, our offices, and our churches.
     Human nature without Christ is basically selfish and demanding.  If Christians act in the same manner without putting aside the self, what difference will the world see?  Why should they desire to follow Christ when we act the same way?
     Instead of putting ourselves first in every situation, let us ask how we can help one another.  We need to ask ourselves not "What would Jesus do" but "How would Jesus have me act in a given situation?"  To love and accept others only when it is convenient to us is human but to love and accept others when it is hard comes from a changed heart by the power of the Holy Spirit.  May we live to serve and bring glory to Christ by our attitude and actions.  Selah!


alH said...

Barbara, this is excellent.
With your indulgence, I'll take your closing thought one step further:
Rather than ask myself, "How would Jesus have me act..." I'll ask Him myself.
After all, it's not as if He has merely left us instructions to be applied as situations arise, and wandered off incommunicado. He is our living Lord, present with us always, even to the end of the age.
James instructs us, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him" (1:5, ESV).
There are questions to ask ourselves, of course, and Scripture identifies them, but what our Lord would have us do is not one of them-- not when He avails Himself to hear and answer that Himself!
This is the very factor that separates Christ's disciples from all other religious adherents-- we have an active, healthy relationship with the very person of Him who we worship and serve.
Blessings to you and your house, dear Sister...

Christina said...

Beautiful and convicting thoughts, Barbara. Thank you! This summed it all up so well:

"To love and accept others only when it is convenient to us is human but to love and accept others when it is hard comes from a changed heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. "

Amen and Amen.

Barbara Thayer said...

Thank you brother Al for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. You made some excellent points. We do, indeed serve a living that is ever present with us. We must always remember that He is the unseen host of every meal and walks with us daily in all our activities. This above all should stimulate us to love and obedience. Blessings and thank you for stopping by.

Barbara Thayer said...

Thank you Christina for your thoughts as well this evening. Indeed, we all need to continually do battle with our flesh don't we? But thank the Lord for our Savior Jesus Christ who helps us over come and rise above our sinful nature. Blessings dear friend!