Selflessness is nearly a forgotten concept in our "me-centered" society. I am as guilty as anyone at times. I suppose it is our default setting as broken, flawed humans. But the life of the Spirit defies this idea. The Spirit life is a selfless one that governs God's kingdom.
You know them. We each learned them as we were children in Sunday School. Do unto others, turn the other cheek, go the second mile, allow yourself to be spoken evil of...and the sort. Unfortunately, we value these mostly in theory. They sound really good on Sunday, but Monday? Not so much. We then convert to Old Testament self-demanding, eye-for-an-eye retribution for any and all wrongs committed against us. We exhaust ourselves building wall after wall around us to ensure we never get wronged again. Of course, scripture calls this unforgiveness; this is the antithesis of a dynamic governed by love.
Perhaps this is why Romans 8:1 says: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. The "walk in the Spirit" yields life and a freedom from condemnation. And in that walk, these selfless principles lead the way.
A minister friend, Paul White blew my mind one day by making the simplest statement: Why is it we can't allow ourselves to be wronged? Consider a rather hidden story locked away in Genesis when a man named Lamech (7th from Cain) was so wounded by the judgment of his ancestors' sin and its consequences, it caused him to spout all over the land that he "killed a man because he hurt me"! (see Gen.4:24-25) This "clenched fist" mentality is prevalent in our society today and we see it almost daily on the news as well as social media. We demand immediate justice over the slightest of perceived slights (guilty, ouch). All the while our Savior taught and demonstrated the the exact opposite principle. He abhorred the idea if calling fire from heaven, He replaced ears severed in anger and fear, he was silent when struck, he was the Lamb SLAIN yet he opened not His mouth when, of all who ever lived, He had a right to speak up!
I spoke to a pastor friend of more than 30 years yesterday. He is the epitome of a true friend. He has been there when I was high and low. His friendship has never wavered. He has always believed in me. We are scheduled to be there in his church in the U.S. tomorrow morning (As I write this from Haiti) and he wanted to let me know the order of things. Ordinarily this particular Sunday is their Pastor Appreciation Sunday but HE decided that he had many of these before and he wanted this to be about us and our work as we set out to serve full time in Haiti. In fact, they are serving brunch and then allowing us to share our work after in lieu of their normal services. Needless to say, I was near speechless. I am so honored and humbled that he would do this for us because I know this man's heart for his folks and he deserves a Sunday to be honored. But this us what servant-minded believers do. This is Spirit life. This is kingdom.
I will leave you with a charge today. Set your heart to this rhythm. Others before you/me. Ask Him to help you do it. It's not easy and requiresrequi the Spirit to do it. It cannot come from our broken, default position. It comes from Him and Him alone.
This us from Phillipians 2:3-7
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.