Selflessness is the absence of self-will, but this lack of self-will must be filled by something, something or someone we would esteem as better than ourselves, more knowledgeable, wiser, more worthy than we value ourselves.
I would like to contend that perhaps the most difficult person I have ever had to try to get along with, the most selfish person I have ever met, is myself. Can you honestly say this about yourself, or did you have someone else in mind as you read those first few words. It seems as if we, and I will include myself in this statement can, as it were, at the drop of a hat, find something amiss, something wrong, with nearly everyone we know and meet. ‘Why did they do that’ or ‘why did they say that,’ “it isn’t what I would have done.”
“Whosever he be of you that forsakes not all that he has, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33) Not some of what he has, or part of who he is, but all, everything that we love, want, have or desire must be placed at the feet of Jesus. The incredible blessings He has to offer to those that are willing to “die to self” (Gal.2:20) cannot be comprehended in this life, and so, “The just will live by faith.” (Rom. 1:17)
I have found though an impossible task in the flesh, to not use the word ‘I’ or myself, for in many normal conversations this would leave others confused as to the meaning of the words and thoughts we would try to convey. To always quote Scripture for an answer though, something I did for a period of time, until a wiser brother in Christ corrected me, comes across as pious at best, and can lead to the sin of vanity. Myself, yourself, me, my, the words that point at us seem to be everywhere at times, but this is not the context I am trying to convey here, these words are only a subterfuge for a deeper problem that needs to be addressed in nearly every believer almost every day.
Selfishness is a by-product of pride, along with haughtiness, vanity and boasting, these all lead to a path that is devoid of any of the fruits of the Spirt. Eventually, selfishness will be followed by strife, and then hatred, it is inevitable, for the further we search within ourselves for completeness, the further we fall form the Grace of God. Selfishness say’s “it’s mine and you can’t have it,” and it is one of the deepest, ingrained effects of the fall of Adam in us. Put a toy between two toddlers and you will understand the truth of these words, for the battle of “it’s mine” will begin.
It is impossible to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:17-18) if ‘your-self’ is more important than anyone else; it is unthinkable for us to “always esteem others better than ourselves” (Phil. 2:3) if we are selfish, and we are all that truly matters; “They loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev.12:11) is not speaking of someone who is concerned with themselves.
When Adam looked deeply into Eves eyes the moment before he bit into that fruit, the moment before sin stepped into the world, he thought of self, not of the commandment of God, nor of the possible consequences, but perhaps, of a love that would be lost to him forever, to a loss he did not think he could endure, of self.
Is there a deeper, more profound, heartfelt request from the Father than to die to self, so that He can show us what true love really means. In Bernard of Clairvaux’s book “On Loving God” he states, “The motive for loving God is God Himself, He gives Himself as prize and reward.” “For God so loved the world, He gave…” One thought has slowly come to me and is continually assisting me in my own personal walk in the area of denying myself for His Glory, and it is this, that God did not make me because He has or had any need of me whatsoever. Very humbling.
“There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Prov. 14:12) That way is self, and the Divine can find no resting place in such a man, though he begs, as it were, and pleads with him, this man is important in his own eyes, and that is all that matters to him. “I will” is not “thy will.” A fool in Scripture is a man who orders his life as if there were no God, a man who though he puts some money in the offering plate, or stays at home to watch television, who sings the songs from the hymnal, or drinks till he passes out, is only thinking constantly of what others think of him, is only thinking of self. Reputation is what the world says you are, and self, most generally loves this, for it seeks it every day, and if it is not heard from others, we will tell ourselves the lie. Character is what God knows you are, and if you will listen to His infinite wisdom, self will die willingly, for His love for you and all that is best for you is undeniable.
We cannot do what our merciful Lord is asking us to do, what the Holy Spirit prompts God’s children to do, to die to self, but an obedient servant of Almighty God, will continue to be submissive to His will, and to be examples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Over time you will find that you matter less and He matters more, and then you will start to see all the others around you in a way that perhaps you have not seen them before, in love. Then His joy will be your joy, and your joy will be full.