Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Challenges for the working gal: self self self

These are notes I prepared for a ladies breakfast I'm hosting on Saturday. Thought I'd put them here before I 'lost' them somewhere in the depths of my computer.

I actually started off by thinking about pride…but selfishness and pride go together. The word ‘pride’ has I at its centre. I’m not talking about time out for ones self, because we all need that. If we don’t rest – whether physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually – we may become ill and overtired. And I don’t know about you, but when that happens to me it opens the door to all kinds of ‘sin’: little sins of grumpiness, less kindness than usual, impatience, irritation – but still ‘SIN’.

At the heart of those sins is ‘I’ or me – MY wishes, MY wants, MY rights – what I would like.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1 – 2, Living Bible)

Philippians 2: 3 says: Don't be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. (Contemporary English Version)

Rick Warren (Better together, p112) says at the beginning of The Purpose Driven Life : ‘Let others go first’ - ‘practise playing second fiddle’ (Romans 12:10 the Message)

This needs a whole new perspective. This means that we:

Diffuse competition with others – this is likely to be one of the best-kept secrets of our lives – often we don’t even realize we are competing until we meet someone or come across a situation where we don’t feel we are ‘top dog’ or even near the top.

Eliminate pride - not want my way all the time. Readily admit when I’m wrong. Even, be prepared to admit that the other person might, just might be right!

Increase consideration – give up my rights. Be sensitive to the needs of others.

Become aware when pride is the driver for our thoughts, words and actions.

Romans 12, in The Message version, gives a lot of practical advice:

3Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
... let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.
6-8If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
9-10Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
11-13Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
14-16Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.
17-19Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."
20-21Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

It’s not about what we do but how we do it. My life probably looks quite good to others: I’m hosting this breakfast, for example. We need to ask ourselves what our motivation is: am I doing it to impress others – with my home, my baking skills, my china, my flowers, my devotion to Bible study? Any of those motivators have been mine to some degrees – it’s all about me. I need to remember to check myself: the house needs to be clean and tidy, not to impress you all, but to make it welcoming. Ditto the table, the flowers, the food… these few words must bless you, not show that I can put a few Bible quotes together and ‘puff off my knowledge’

It’s hard to let someone else take the credit – when it should be ours.
It’s hard to let someone else hold the floor when we want to say our ‘bit’.
It’s hard to celebrate other’s successes when we are experiencing failure or difficulty.
It’s hard to serve others with no hidden agenda – for their good, not to get rewards for ourselves.
It’s hard.

"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” from Proverbs 3:34 is quoted by both James and Peter. I think there are huge spiritual benefits from humbling ourselves: we enter God’s grace.

Philippians 2:3 -8 (The Message) says: 1-4If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
5-8Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
9-11Because of that obedience, God lifted him high…

God lifts us high. I believe that, when we humble ourselves, our spirits enter God’s grace. We connect with God in a special way. We know in ourselves when that happens. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, and He will lift you up in due time…” (I Peter 5:6)

I pray that we will all experience that grace and, in doing so, joy.

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