Thursday May 24
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:1-5
“Love each other with genuine affection. Honor one another above yourselves…12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer…15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another.” Romans 12:10-16
You never have to teach a child how to be selfish, they just naturally are. Learning to share and to be patient must be taught to children, so they will someday become well-adjusted adults. But, what happens once we’re all grown up? Is that selfish nature of ours really gone?
I thought I had outgrown my selfishness as I became a relatively mature adult…until one day recently. You see, I’ve been praying for something for a very long time. Psalm 37:4 calls this something the “desire of your heart.” I seem to do a pretty good job trusting God to give me this desire in His timing, except when someone else gets their heart’s desire and I don’t. All of a sudden, my thoughts and emotions are flooded with jealousy, bitterness, and thoughts like: “Why them and not me? But, I’ve been waiting for so long!” Yep, I’m ashamed to admit that selfishness still lives in me.
When my closest friend got her long-awaited answered prayer, it was really hard for me to have true joy for her because I was so focused on what I didn’t have. That moment was one of the deepest and most raw experiences I’ve ever had with God. I prayed and asked God why everyone else got their answered prayer except me; I even “reminded” God how many years had gone by. After my mini-tantrum, God comforted me in an unexpected way…with tough love. I was completely expecting God to say, “It’s okay, your turn is coming soon,” but instead, He showed me that my heart’s desire was no longer God, but this thing I’ve been so focused on. Ouch!
After I realized I had made my heart’s desire into an idol, I asked God for forgiveness and then joy for my friend was able to come in. Selfishness had robbed me of joy for others and I wasn’t able to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” Is it still a struggle for me to be happy for others who get their answered prayer while I continue to wait? Yes, it is. But, now I have a strategy to protect my joy: When I start to feel those selfish feelings take over, I immediately spend time with God in prayer, so my heart can get realigned with God’s heart.
So, what’s your heart’s desire? As you wait for that desire to be fulfilled, how do you react to other peoples’ blessings?
God, thank you for being my heavenly father and redirecting my thoughts and emotions when they’re focused on the wrong things. I want to be someone who can ‘rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.’