Friday, September 25, 2009

Respectable Sins - Selfishness (Ch 12)

Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges

Chapter 12 - Selfishness

Bridges addressed four areas of selfishness which he thinks are common to believers:

1. Selfishness with our interests - the things that we like, are interested in and want to talk about. How much do we talk about ourselves and the things that interest us? How often are we willing to listen to others and hear about them? It's another indication of self-centredness.

Paul's words in Philippians can guide us here:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil 2:3-4)
2. Selfishness with our time - we all live our lives feeling like there isn't enough time, not enough to do what we want to get done, let alone including helping others. However, we must not fall into the trap our guarding our time so jealously, that we refuse to serve others, or strengthen relationships.

I can certainly struggle with this one - I value my time and I can be very protective of the free time that I have. It's OK to have time to ourselves to recharge and refresh, but I need to be careful not to keep desiring more and more time to myself, to fulfill my wishes and desires. It has been a lesson for me in the past few years to use some of the free time I have to spend with people, rather than 'getting things done'.

3. Selfishness with our money - we are not generous with our money. As a whole, we "are selfish with our money and relatively indifferent to the physical and material needs and of people less fortunate than us." (p105)

A report that received a lot of attention when it was published in Australia in 2004, showed how Australians spend more on their pets each year than they do on foreign aid. We just don't tend to care about issues that do not affect us personally. Yet the bible calls us to care for others in need:
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:17-18)
4. Inconsiderateness - the person who does not think about the impact of their actions on others. This can be expressed in numerous ways - being so noisy we impact other people, being inconsiderate to shop assistants, etc. Just as we we want to cultivate a habit of being thankful to God in everything, we also want to express our thanks and gratitude for those around us on earth.

Bridges points out that that Jesus is the greatest example of unselfishness we have - the Lord of all humbled himself so that we might become rich:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Cor 8:9)

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death--
even death on a cross! (Phil 2:5-8)
Bridges says that the people most able to spot selfishness in us are our family, so we should ask them how we are selfish and be prepared to listen and change.

Some things to think about:
  1. In which of these areas do you struggle with selfishness - your interests, your time, your money or in being inconsiderate?
  2. Do you need to change your priorities and expectations regarding how you view 'your' money, time, etc?
  3. How can you be more generous with your time, money or attitudes this week?

on Monday:
Chapter 13 - Lack of self-control

No comments: