“If I ever do a perfect act of love, I’ll probably be proud of it, and then it won’t be a perfect act anymore. Maybe if I die in the midst of performing this act, I could do it.” – man on radio (wish I knew who he was)
When I heard it, this idea struck me. Even my best efforts are littered with selfishness and pride. My “wants” show up in the most unlikely of places – even when I “serve,” I want to be recognized – or I want someone else to take notice and look at me with more admiration, etc. My service serves myself. I’m sinful. Very sinful.
Scripture addresses this too.
Isaiah 64:6 – “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.“
Romans 7:21-25 – “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
So here’s the question: How can I get rid of this? How can I serve selflessly? Of course the only REAL answer is Jesus. He alone has done a “perfect act of love” – the cross. He alone is perfect, and so all of His acts were perfect. Ours are NOT. Nor will they ever be. Our acts of service and sacrifice are always going to be tainted with at least a little bit of selfishness. We are sinners, but because of His “perfect act of love” (the cross), we can receive forgiveness and will be made holy. Our selfishness is forgiven and covered by His blood.
A perfect act of love? This is not a goal for us to attain, but a grace that Jesus has offered to us.
John Ortberg says, “American society does not talk much about calling anymore. It is more likely to think in terms of career. Yet, for many people a career becomes the altar on which they sacrifice their lives.
A calling, which is something I do for God, is replaced by a career, which threatens to become my god. A career is something I choose for myself; a calling is something I receive. A career is something I do for myself; a calling is something I do for God. A career promises status, money or power; a calling generally promises difficulty and even some suffering – and the opportunity to be used by God. A career is about upward mobility; a calling generally leads to downward mobility.”
Many callings have been sacrificed on the altar of career. You see, it’s tough to leave the safety of a career to pursue a calling that doesn’t seem to come with any promises/guarantees. However, it makes sense to start chasing your calling today!! I have been blessed and always been able to pursue a calling. I can’t imagine what it’d be like to simply go to a job or pursue a career that doesn’t really breathe life into me. A calling may be tough and there may be suffering involved, but the energy and life that is sparked within me, is priceless. It’s not tough to get up in the morning and work hard all day if you’re chasing a God-given calling ’cause He provides the energy and motivation that are needed. You also FEEL motivated and encouraged ’cause you know you’re making an eternal difference.
As much as we need the money, I can’t settle for a career – just a job to pay the bills. I’m praying for someone to give me the opportunity to pursue my calling to teach. I’m willing to pay my dues and to make the sacrifices that are needed, ’cause I know I’ll be energized in the end. I know that pursuing a calling is far greater than having a career.
During a devotional time this morning, our Associate Pastor read 1 Kings 3:7-12 and something grabbed my attention that I’ve never noticed before. It was in verse 12. In the ESV it reads, “I now do according to your word.” The interesting thing is that in this portion of Scripture, God is speaking. God said to Solomon, “I now do according to your word.”
What?!?!? We’re supposed to say that to God. He’s not supposed to follow us! He’s God right?? So why would He do “according to our word.” We’re just stupid, arrogant, prideful, selfish people. Of course you all know the answer. God is willing to say He’ll do “according to our word” when we have completely lined up with His will – when our desires are the same a His desires – when He has placed His words in our mouths – when our word is the same as His Word.
So here’s my question: Can God say to you, “I now do according to your word.”? Is your desire the same as His? Is your heart in line with His? If you could ask for anything in the world from God (like Solomon), would your request be a selfish one? or one that would honor God and be in line with His desires for the world?
Me? To be real honest, I’m not sure what my request would be. I believe that in moments like that God gives us strength to do the right things, but I also know that my first temptation would be to ask for a job and a way to support my family right now.
Prayer: Lord, I confess that I’m a selfish man – that I want things my way way too often. I confess that I’m fearful for the future of my family. I do trust You. But I’m also fearful. I know those things don’t really go together, but it’s truly where I am right now. There’s a real tension between my faith and my fear and the two of them are waging war within me. Lord, I’m weak and I know that in these moments, You are strong. So please Lord, take charge of this battle. My true desire is to be faithful, to honor You, to hold fast. My deep desire is to have my words, my desires, & my life in tune and in step with You – to put myself in a position where You can say, “I now do according to your word” to me. May it be so. AMEN.
1. With constant bits of information, we rarely take time to think or feel deeply. Humans can sort information quickly, but complex emotions like compassion or admiration take longer to process. (from Twitter:What’s it doing to us?)
2. Tweeting about ourselves all the time can eventually make us into narcissists. (an “it’s all about me”-attitude)
OK – so what am I gonna do about it? I don’t want to become that kind of guy, but I do enjoy the twitter experience and I actually read the tweets (status updates on facebook) of my friends ’cause I do care about what’s going on with them too. Anyway, here’s my idea:
I think I’ll try a little experiment.
If twitter has a tendency to make us inward/narcissists then, I’ll try to use it the opposite way. Today, all my tweets will be for the benefit of others. Today my tweets will be “in the key of Encouragement.” Tomorrow, maybe I’ll use them to offer advise or share Scripture. Any other ideas?
PS – I will probably still share a few of the things I’m doing throughout the day or if something funny happens, but I will seek to truly think about my tweet before I send it. I’m praying that God would help me to make your day better with my 140 characters.