By Gisela Yohannan I would like to share with you a few thoughts about self-centeredness. I believe the Lord desires that we make room in our hearts for each other. Most people’s lives only revolve around themselves, their families and their possessions. Perhaps we grew up with strong family ties, and we were taught that all our efforts, energy and resources should benefit our own family. But when we look in the Bible, we discover that as believers, God has called us to far more:
But with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3–4).
God expects my focus to change from me to you. This Scripture actually means that your spiritual and physical well-being must become my deep personal concern. I will no longer be satisfied if my own life exhibits love, joy, peace, humility and holiness; but I will earnestly desire for God to develop these things in you as well. I will not rest but will seek the Lord on your behalf until my prayers are answered.
In fact, my concern for you will run so deeply that I will only consider my victory in the race complete if you cross the finish line alongside of me.
Your suffering, poverty, struggles or failures will cause me to feel the same pain and sadness you experience, and I will look for ways to help you. On the other hand, if you do well and God uses you, I will not be jealous but will rejoice and praise God for you.
Why do we have so little genuine interest in each other? Because we are so hopelessly selfish. Even in our seemingly selfless service . . . we are self-centered. We do all these wonderful things . . . expecting . . . devotion, love and care for us in response. Our children get our greatest attention and sacrificial love, but at the same time we expect that their lives will benefit us in the future.
We regard our headache, our disappointments or our lack of finances as the most important event in the universe. Sadly, our curiosity, jealousy and gossip or the benefits we get from our relationships very often motivate our so-called interest in each other. But none of these things even faintly resembles what God had in mind.
Even in the ministry, we expect things to revolve around us; otherwise, our happiness is gone. The truth is, we have no real interest in each other, because we are so filled up with our own selves. There is no room, time or energy left for anyone else.
What does it take for us to change? To make real room in our hearts for each other?
1. Dying to ourselves.
The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”
Because we are “dead,” we will offer no resistance for Christ to freely live through us. From now on, His love can flow unhindered through us toward others. But even though this is absolutely true, we so often cling to our old, unsaved ways and block everything Christ wants to do by our self-centeredness.
So how can that death, which I died with Christ on the cross, overtake those still unsurrendered areas in my life? It starts with denying myself and picking up my cross daily in order to follow in the footsteps of Jesus (see Luke 9:23). This means every morning when I get up, I must make a fresh decision to deliberately say “no” to my rights, my desires and myself—and say “yes” to the will of God.
2. Falling in love with Jesus.
In the measure in which our love for the person of Jesus (not the benefits we get from Him) increases, our self-love will decrease and make room for our brothers and sisters:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and every one who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:7–8).
3. Understanding what it truly means to be a member of the Body of Christ.
“So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:5).
Many times, with our words or actions, we carelessly or deliberately inflict wounds on our brothers and sisters. In some cases, we even amputate them from the rest of the Body of Christ. I believe it happens mostly because we don’t see ourselves as one living, breathing organism in which each part is extremely essential in order for the whole body to function and to survive. If we understood this, we would care for each other just like we read in Philippians 2:3–4.. . . God knows that each of us has much to learn in this area of making room in our hearts for each other. But today let us make a decision to change by the grace of God.
Excerpted from Dear Sister by Gisela Yohannan. Copyright © 2006 by Gisela Yohannan. (Carrollton, TX: GFA Books). The book Dear Sister is a collection of letters written by Gisela Yohannan to those serving the Lord on the mission field and around the world. Each letter represents a part of her own journey with the Lord and a lesson He taught her in her own life.
You can download a digital version of Dear Sister and start reading it now.
Gisela Yohannan serves the Lord along with her husband, Dr. KP Yohannan Metropolitan, who is the founder and director of Gospel for Asia. She is the author of four well-known books: Broken for a Purpose, Consider Your Call, Dear Sister and Let Me Walk With You. Gisela’s life and commitment to the Lord are a challenge and encouragement to many.
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