Spiritually Mature People Defer their Preferences

i_got_thisContinued from here.

Loving your neighbor as yourself requires us to prioritize other people above ourselves, so spiritually mature people repeatedly defer their own preferences in honor of others. Nothing about this process comes naturally because of our selfish sinful nature. The natural state for each of us is to choose the best for ourselves and follow our feelings. Only through spiritual maturity do we learn to humble ourselves as we honor others.

The way I learned this trait most effectively was by becoming a parent. I could not meet my baby’s needs without deferring my own preferences (such as sleep!) repeatedly as I placed my baby’s needs above my own. God gives new parents the grace of bonding through intense love, which helps them overcome their natural selfishness to prioritize the needs of a new baby.

Unfortunately, we don’t get the same feelings when it comes to deferring our preferences for annoying family members … or the people at work who are trying to sabotage us … or those who are bullying our child. When it comes to loving our enemies, obedience happens through a choice to obey God despite what we feel, and that’s hard to do. It takes spiritual maturity to bless those who curse us and pray for those who mistreat us.

My preference was to hate my childhood abusers, nurse my bitterness, and hope they all burn eternally in hell. However, God commanded me to forgive them, which I truly, from the bottom of my heart, did not want to do. God placed a question on my heart: did I love Him more than I hated my enemies? If I loved Him more, then I needed to forgive them, not because they deserved it but because I would obey God out of love. Obeying God by forgiving my enemies through repeated prayer for them was one of my most life-changing experiences. It was through forgiving them that God healed my brokenness.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace saying, “I got this.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

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Humility: The Sacrifice of Pride

Continued from here.

On her television show, Enjoying Everyday Life, Joyce Meyer has shared that her lowest-selling book is one on humility. It’s not that her books don’t sell well – they certainly do! The problem is that people are selfish. We would much rather spend our time learning how to receive God’s blessings than on making sacrifices for God, and developing humility requires us to sacrifice our self-focus. As I have shared on other blog entries about humility, God actually knows what He is doing. The less your fill with yourself, the more room becomes available to fill with God, which brings joy and peace. Thus, when we resist developing humility, we choose to miss out on the joy and peace that God has available for us.

Paul tells us to be completely humble, so why would a book on humility be Meyers’ lowest seller? The answer is a reluctance to sacrifice … in this case, the sacrifice of pride. We want to read books that build up our pride: How can **I** experience joy? How can **I** experience peace? How can **I** experience healing? Please don’t think I am excluding myself from this statement – that’s my natural state as well, which is why my natural state is also anxious and unhappy.

And yet, Christianity isn’t about us: it’s about God! When we choose to spend our time figuring out what we can get out of our faith, we keep our minds focused on ourselves, rather than God. Jesus gave us two “great commandments,” and neither one has ourselves as the focus:

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~ Matt. 22:36-40

It comes easily to all of us to keep our minds focused on ourselves – on what we want, making it a sacrifice to focus on God and others. But this is what must do to become disciples of Christ.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Testing Your Level of Humility. Courtesy Amazon. ]

 

A Lesson in Humility

airplane_take_offContinued from here.

I continued my meditation on the enormity of God as I flew to visit a friend out of state. As I looked out the airplane’s window, I considered the reality that God fills all of this space! He fills the plane, the atmosphere as far up as I could see, all the way down to the earth thousands of feet below, and every house peppering the landscape below.

And that was only as far as I could see! In that moment, He was also surrounding the Alps in Switzerland, the tropical fish at the Great Barrier Reef, and the penguins in Antarctica. Our God is truly massive!

Then, I thought about myself in comparison. I was taking up this little sliver is space in the middle seat of one airplane, wedged between my son and a stranger. The God of the Universe is EVERYWHERE, and I’m in this teeny tiny space. So, why do I often act as if the world revolves around me?

When I consider the mammoth size of God (actually, He makes a mammoth look teeny tiny), how distorted is my world view when I behave as if the world is supposed to cater to my desires? How could I possibly have any expectation that the rest of the world should defer to my whims?

And then consider my arrogance in trying to bend God to my will. How dare I tell God that He should do X, Y, and Z when my perspective is so severely limited. He sees EVERYTHING while I cannot even see through the seat of the person sitting in front of me on an airplane. How ludicrous of me to presume to know better than God how my life should go.

In my humanity, my own comfort often fills the frame of my perspective: what I want, need, or desire. So, what I view as “good” or “bad” is based on this teeny tiny sliver of space that I inhabit. Only God sees the whole picture. Only He is in the position to know what is truly “good” or “bad” because He sees the needs of EVERYONE. And He is good, so He cares.

C.S. Lewis said,

True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

When I think about the enormity of our God – that He is, quite literally, EVERYWHERE, I am deeply humbled as I take my eyes off myself and place them onto my God, where they belong.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace waving through an airplane window above the words, “Ready for take off.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]