So I took a personality test this week. The test listed statements, and asked you to rate whether those statements were accurate or inaccurate about you. Here are a couple of the statements that were inaccurate for me:
- My thoughtfulness and charitable nature are my foundation.
- I am frequently helping others but I forget about myself.
As I read these, I thought, really? Some people are naturally giving? There are people who help others all the time out of the pure goodness of their heart? Wow. I assumed everyone was more like me. I care about others. It is my goal to be giving. But I have to make a conscious effort to put SELF aside.
Selfishness. It is a beast most of us wrestle with often. We face it so much, we begin to forget that it is a big deal.
But then this verse in James reminds us, “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3
Selfishness isn’t just a weakness, it is something that creates disorder and every evil practice. Probably the majority of the wrongdoing we commit over the course of our lives is rooted in selfishness.
Going back to the personality test, which statements were absolutely true for me? There were statements that were true for me that reflect my strengths of leadership and creativity. But then there were these:
- I am always afraid that I will do the wrong thing.
- I worry about things all the time.
- I spend a lot of time thinking about past mistakes.
I am an anxious person! I thought, as a Christian, that I had this more under control. But these phrases describe me well.
So I am selfish and I am anxious. Do both of these stem from the same place within me? I think so. I think that I am anxious and selfish because I do not TRUST that God is running the world, and taking care of me, in the right way.
Yesterday the kids did a craft in Sunday school where they pasted their footprints on a piece of paper with a simply worded version of Psalms 23:3, “He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” And this is just what I need to hear. ALL GODS PATHS ARE RIGHT. If I am following God, I am going in the right direction. The world around me is going in the right direction.
- “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6
God is working towards an end in my life. He is working towards an end across time, across the universe. I need to have faith, to remember that after suffering comes restoration, to prepare myself to stand in awe at what God will do.
How can I be more compassionate? How can I be less anxious? I can learn to TRUST more.
I will trust more when I know better the character of God: “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Ex 34:6
- “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” Romans 2:4
I will trust more when I humble myself and let God lift me up. I do not have to find for myself the recognition I so crave. God will take care of me and shape me into the person I was created to be.
- “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13
Turning down the volume on self. Learning to have God’s wisdom. Learning to have God’s heart. I love how James describes it, this is who I would like to be, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17
In closing, may we be inspired by the compassion of Jesus.
- “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat.” Matt 15:32
- “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matt 9:36
- When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Matt 14:14
- So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. Matt 18:26-27
- They said to Him, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him. John 20:33-34
- Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” Luke 7:12-13
- But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. Luke 10:33
- So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20