One day I received a message with a very interesting question. Because it was sent as a text message, I had time to think about how to answer. The question was:
How do you come out of this life of just living for yourself? And to stop having thoughts about what you want, want to do etc.? When I see X, he is always so happy, and always thinking about what he can do for others.
That which no-one can see
I was surprised by the question as the person asking this question did not look like he was living for himself at all. He always seemed to be happy, thinking of others etc. And I also know that the person that he saw as being such an example doesn’t always feel happy and actually has his own battles against his selfishness and lack of caring.
We usually think that other people know exactly how to live this life and that we are the ones still struggling far behind. We try to pretend that everything is fine, but inside, where no-one can see, we can easily think negatively about our own value and our own walk with God. We also can’t see the others’ thoughts. We don’t see their battles, their struggles, or the negative thoughts that they have to overcome.
That which is the same for all of us
There is something that is the same for all of us, and that is that we all have a sinful human nature, or what we can call “my life” or “my self-life” – which is the natural, selfish me. It is the same for everyone who wants to follow Christ – we all have a selfish human nature to overcome. Even when others are “nicer people” than me, they all have a sinful human nature to overcome. It’s not having a nice personality that counts. What’s important is to make a firm decision to find this self-life and get free from it or “lose it”, as it’s written in Matthew 10:39.
In Romans 8:29 it is written that God has chosen us to become like His Son. So if we want to be like Christ, we have to firmly believe what is written in Romans 7:18 (GW):
“I know that nothing good lives in me; that is, nothing good lives in my corrupt nature ...”
And the other important thing we have to believe is this:
“He who finds his life will lose it …” Matthew 10:39.
What we should be busy with
Our focus as Christians should be on what we are finding or seeing about our own “self-life” during a normal day, not on how other people are. And to find our “life” we have to be looking for it; every time that we find something in our lives that is against God’s will or that is not how He would want it, we have to “lose” or get rid of it. We have to say No to it, and then we have taken a little step forward on the way to becoming more like Jesus.
We have to stop trying to look like a “better person”, like the people we meet who always seem to be kind and thinking of the others. The Church of Christ is not built by people trying to be nice to each other; it is built by people finding their lives and losing them - or said in other words, people who take up a battle against the sin they see in their own human nature.
I know where my battle has been today, but it is a matter between me and God. Perhaps nobody has seen that I have felt miserable, or that I had to take up the battle against being selfish, or being jealous or suspicious or complaining or being offended or angry.
But what people will see, if I win the battle against the sin in myself every time, is that I begin to change for the better. Some things may take longer than others, but we must not be afraid of the battle, because we are promised that we will overcome.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NLT).