January 19, 2005
In our current 40-day focus on becoming people of wisdom, we are looking this week at the social and personal responsibility we have to care for the poor, the weak, and the oppressed. We discovered on Sunday that the Bible has much to say about the contrast between being self-centered and self-sacrificing, and that Godly wisdom produces a self-sacrificing nature within us.
I have discovered that there are two main reasons why people are stuck in the self-centered mode when it comes to caring about the needs of others:
1. Some people believe they are the needy ones and people should be caring for them. They may very well have a need, but they exploit it for personal benefit. They have an inverted pride that somehow makes them feel valued when they can get the attention of others. It is a self-centered bondage of Satan that destroys their ability to reach outside of themselves to give to others.
2. Some people believe they are above need and don’t want to be negatively influenced by touching the poor and needy. They tend to have thoughts like, “We had to struggle to make it, let them” or “If I help them I may get sucked back into it myself.” Any and all attitudes like this are also prideful and self-centered.
On the other hand, I have discovered some traits of the self-sacrificing person that are the product of the servant heart of Christ’s character dwelling within them. Let’s look at one of them today.
The first character trait of a self-sacrificing person is that they are dedicated to honoring God with everything in their lives.
Their money is all for God’s use – not just 10% of it as a tithe, but 100% is available for God’s use. They know what it means to give offerings over and above their tithe to meet the needs of others. They have a generous spirit.
Their possessions are available for God’s use at any time. We have a man in our church who models this trait. He has been blessed with the financial ability to own lots of stuff, and yet everything he owns is available to any one of us when we need it. All you have to do is go to his shop, sign it out, and bring it back when you’re done. God owns it all, and it all is used to serve the brothers in the Lord.
Their time and talents are God’s and they allow their lives to be interrupted to help others. Nothing about their schedule is self-centered. When God moves, they move with Him. When they see a need, and they have the ability to meet the need, they do it. Sometimes even when they don’t have the ability, they serve anyway, because their desire is to honor God, and they know they do that best by serving others.
Jesus said, “The Son of Man has come not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) There was nothing self-centered about Jesus, even to the point of giving up His life for the needs of others. There is no greater love. There is no greater honor to the One who loves us than to live that way ourselves.
When others look at our lives, which of the two people we described today do they see – a self centered one, or a self-sacrificing one? The choice is yours.