Being Selfless Through Compromise

Selfless Through Compromise

Why does being selfless have to be so hard?

A couple weeks ago in our women’s Sunday School class, my toddler noticed a little girl carrying around her container of Cheerios and decided he should have some. Moments later, he had her snack and was shoving handfuls of cereal into his mouth. When I reached for the container, he screamed in protest. I took out his cup of Cheerios and offered it to the little girl. My son indicated that he wanted to have both snacks, but I told him to choose which one he wanted. (Of course he wanted hers.) The little girl went to sit on her mom’s lap, munching on his snack as I mouthed an apology to the mom.

It’s not like we’re born selfish, right? Oh wait. . . (see Jeremiah 17:9)

Shouldn’t I Just Give In?
A few days ago, Christopher and I were working through a disagreement, and the subject of selflessness came up.

If we really wanted to be like Christ, we reasoned, shouldn’t we give in to the other person’s wants and desires? After all, in Philippians 2:3-4, it says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

The passage goes on to talk about having the attitude of Christ who “made himself nothing” and “became obedient to death.” (vs. 7-8) If we have placed our faith in Jesus, we have His Spirit living inside us, guiding us in making choices that show love to others.

But. . .

We still sin and struggle with sinful tendencies. All of our past, present, and future sins have been paid for by Jesus’ death on the cross, but we will participate in a fallen world until we reach heaven.

We need to confess our sin before God, and ask for His help to turn away from it. According to biblical teacher, Steve Wibberley, in his book, “Knowing Jesus is Enough For Joy, Period!” there are layers to our sin, with pride, unbelief and rebellion at the root of everything.

“Selflessness” vs. Honest Communication
The battle is intense. Satan wants us to keep us from being an active part in God’s kingdom. So what exactly does it mean to be selfless? What could be a pitfall of focusing on it?

Let’s say I disagree with my husband about something, but decide to be “selfless” and silently give in completely to his desires while ignoring my own. Later, if I think about my “selfless” act, I may commit the sin of pride, thinking I am better than him for giving in. If he had given in completely to my preferences without me giving him an opportunity to share his own, I would be selfish.

Deep, rich communication could be lost if I don’t respectfully share my feelings and preferences and instead try to look “selfless.” (which could cause me to be self-righteous or resentful)

If we instead listen to and validate each others’ feelings and preferences, seeking ways to honor and love the other person, that honest communication may end up looking a lot like compromise.

Selfless

Maybe Philippians 2 isn’t about how to make myself as miserable as possible.

Some questions I’ve asked myself as I’ve reflected on Philippians 2 are:
Could it be selfish to not share my feelings with my husband?
Could it be valuing him above myself when I give him the opportunity to fully express why he feels the way he does? (without interrupting)

If I feel heard, it is so much easier for me to “look to the interests of others.” But even when I don’t feel heard, I can always go to the One who is ever-present, who was tempted as we were, and who sympathizes with our struggles. (see Hebrews 4:15-16) Jesus is worth the fight against sin.

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Keeping Our Kids Safe (And Giving Them to the Lord)

Child Safety

I hear the swish of sock against fake leather. I turn to see the little foot and knee join the other one on top of the glider’s foot rest. The foot rest rocks just like the chair, and he throws his toddler hands forward to catch himself on the coffee table. Then the knee rises again, and he crawls up to the top of the table, looking terribly pleased with himself. It’s when he stands up on the table that I rush over with my “No, No’s” and plop him back on the ground.

How do I make sure he’s safe? How about in five minutes?

When I was a teenager, I read a book called “Jesus Freaks.” It’s a collection of true stories about people who died because they wouldn’t deny Christ. I asked God to give me that kind of heart, being willing to lay down my life for the sake of the gospel. Later, I copied down a prayer by a martyr named Betty Stam who was a missionary to China.

John_et_Betty_Stam

I Give by Betty Stam
Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes,
All my own desires and hopes,
And I accept Thy will for my life.
I give myself, my life, my all
Utterly to Thee to be Thine forever.
Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit.
Use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt.
And work out Thy whole will in my life, at any cost, 
Now and forever.”

When I got married, I was faced with the question, “Would I continue to trust God if He took my husband away through some disease or accident?”

A few years later, another precious relationship came into my life. When I left the hospital with Isaiah, Christopher and I looked at each other like, “Are they really going to let us walk out of this building without having any previous parenting experience? What if something happens to him?” We’d listen closely to the monitor at night, trying to hear his tiny breaths. It was yet another reminder of my lack of control in this world.

Recently, I thought about how many times the Lord probably has saved me from situations when I wasn’t even aware I was in danger, like in a close call while driving.

A few years ago, a missionary to Turkey challenged us to give our spouses and children to the Lord in the same way we had given ourselves to Him. It’s the idea that no matter what happens, I’m going to declare I serve a good God who knows how to perfectly care for His children (even in a sin-stained world).

I appreciated this song by Shane and Shane called “Though You Slay Me” as I continue to see the suffering sin causes. Pastor John Piper is also featured in the video.

My son is not mine. He is a soul and body God has entrusted to me. I want to do the best job I can while leaving the ultimate safety and care to the One in charge of the universe.

Was there a time when you were made aware of God’s protection? I’d love to hear about it.

Keeping Our Kids Safe