Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4
After I had children, I began putting my life on hold because their needs superseded my own. And they always need something! If I am to deny myself to follow Christ, does that mean I can only do what I want after everyone else’s needs are met? If I do something for only myself, am I selfish?
How did I get lost? Did I lose myself for Jesus’ sake or just lose myself in busyness, burying my dreams and desires in the rubble of everyday life.
For years I have struggled to figure out exactly what dying to self means. I decided to look up all the places it was found in scripture. I found none! I found I was to deny myself and die to sinful desires, but not die to self. Please tell me where/if you find it.
Here are some of the verses I encountered:
*If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his live will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it. Matthew 16:24
*Our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. Romans 6:6
*Count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans6:11
*I died to the Law that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Galatians 2:20
*Those who belong to Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24
*If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
What have I learned?
My old “self” was crucified with Christ, and I am a new creation. My new “self” is actually Christ living in and through me as I am being conformed into His image. Denying truly selfish interests in order to pursue interests which serve God’s purposes becomes a consequence of true saving faith as I put Jesus as my priority. Sometimes (more so as I grow in my Christian walk), Christ’s interests and mine will be the same, so serving everyone else’s interest at the expense of serving Christ’s interests would not be wise or beneficial.
Perhaps I should have stated from the beginning, this blog contains more questions than answers. I was trying to wait until I figured it out, however, I still experience a tension of when to consider my own interests and when to serve the interests of others. Lately, I experience more peace (and less guilt) when on occasion, I choose things I want instead of what I perceive others want or need. For example, it is 6:00 p.m. and I am trying to finish this blog instead of cooking dinner. I stopped thinking of naps as selfish because a short rest empowers me to have grace for the rest of the day. I no longer feel obligated to say “yes” if my schedule is open because I want to preserve time alone with Jesus to nurture my spirit.
So where did I go? I will let Colossians 3 summarize this since God’s word says it better than I ever could…. I have died (my old self) and my life is hidden with Christ in God. I have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created me.