Let me tell you the story of Narcissus. He was an arrogant, proud man, totally obsessed with himself and his looks. He took no interest in others and didn’t receive or give love to anyone. To cut a short story even shorter, he was subjected to a curse that made him fall in love with his own reflection. He kept on looking at his reflection in the water and deeply desired it. One day he saw his reflection in a well, so he jumped in and drowned.
Pretty dark isn’t it?
However, we are all in deep danger of missing out on life and destroying ourselves with self-obsession. The scariest thing of all, is that we are totally unaware of the danger we are in.
The reason for our selfishness
We have fallen for a lie that says the way to life, fulfilment and joy is to look after yourself, seek your own welfare, do whatever it takes to protect your own comfort, use all your time and money on yourself. This is not a new lie, we can trace it all the way back to Eden. Satan convinced Adam and Eve to be more concerned about their own pleasure and increased wisdom than trusting and following God. In 2 Corinthians 5:15 Paul defines sin as ‘living for ourselves’. We are all guilty.
So how do we live for God and others? How do we stop living for ourselves?
The remedy for our selfishness
We first need to realise the paradoxical promise of selflessness. The lie tells us that life is found by self-preservation. However, Jesus tells us that life is found in self-denial, ‘Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it’ (Matt 10:39).
Why is this the case? Remember how we are designed? We have been made in God’s image. We were created to glorify God, to worship him, live for him and serve others. That means that the way we flourish and are most satisfied is when we put God and others before ourselves. If we put ourselves first, we are going against our very nature. Selfishness leads to death, not life. Selfishness ultimately leads to despair, emptiness and being miserable. If we put God and others before ourselves, we’re going to experience life in its fullness – life as it’s meant to be! As a fish is made for the sea, so we are made to live for God and others.
Secondly, we need to see and feel the selflessness of our Saviour. Philippians 2 shows us how Jesus put his self-interest to one side in order to serve us. He put our needs before his own. He left the comfort, safety and glory of heaven, for the humiliation, weakness and shame of the cross. And he did that for you. When we grasp the wonder of that, it must transform our hearts.
A Christian had just put on his slippers and dressing gown, and was just about to put his feet up in front of a warm, log fire. The rain was pouring and the wind was howling outside. Just as his favourite TV program was about to start, there was a loud knock on the door. As tempting as it was to ignore, he opened it and felt the cold air rush in. Standing, soaking outside was a member from his church, ‘My car has broken down, could you run me down to the train station please?’ His answer? ‘If my Saviour could come all the way from heaven for me, I can go all the way to the station for you!’
When we grasp the depth of selflessness of our Saviour for us, it will transform our hearts to live joyful, liberating lives of selfless abandon, to the glory of God!