Last week, I started a series on selfishness. This week, we’ll look at how we can confront selfishness.
Evaluate and repent…
Escape from selfish cannot happen until we get to the place in our lives where we know we must change… and are willing to change. The Bible tells of two different men who had two completely different reactions to Jesus. Both were rich. Both were selfish. Both responded differently. You can find their stories in Luke 18:18-19:10.
The first was a nameless rich guy. He asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life (inheritance probably meant a lot to this guy–he was wealthy). Jesus told him, “You know the commandments–don’t commit adultury, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t bear false witness, honor your father and mother.” Notice He left out several of the ten commandments–don’t covet, honor the Sabbath, no other gods but God, no graven images. I’m not sure, but it looks like Jesus purposefully did not mention those things to see what this dude’s reaction would be. His things were his god, he didn’t honor God by resting on the Sabbath to focus on Him, and he coveted what he saw. Anyway, this dude gets excited–I’ve always done these things! Jesus then lowers the boom–go sell everything you have, give the money to the poor, and follow me. Instant gut check… and the guy walks away, sad because he owned so much property. He evaluated his life on the spot, and the price of following Jesus was too high.
Later, in Luke 19, Jesus encounters a really selfish guy named Zaccheus. He was a chief tax-collector–he oversaw other tax collectors. Tax collectors were some of the most despised people in 1st century Israel because they worked for the Romans, collecting taxes and charging enourmous fees, by which they got rich. It’s been said that Jewish citizens paid nearly 90% of their income in taxes. No wonder these dudes were hated! Zaccheus’ encounter with Jesus was much different–he evaluated his life and repented. He pledged to give away half of everything to the poor and refund those he defrauded with a ton of interest. The result: Jesus said that salvation had come to Zaccheus.
Each of us falls into the same category as one of these guys when it comes to selfishness. We’re called to evaluate our lives. Some of us will be like the nameless dude–the price is too high. We like our luxury, comfort, and security, even when it comes to our relationship with God. We don’t want to take risks, we don’t want to change. Others of us will be like Zaccheus–the price is high, but we’ll pay it. We’ll evaluate our lives, and we’ll repent fully–more than just mumbling “I’m sorry” to God. We’ll pursue ways to be selfless and generous (which will appear in this week’s posts).
Which dude’s example will we follow?