Love vs Selfishness – Grace

“34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

First of all, let’s read it again remember John was quoting Jesus himself. This must be VERY important if Jesus not only said it, but commanded it. Do not read on until you read that a couple times and get it in you. Because this post is not about that verse. It is about the opposite of that verse.

So they (everyone and anyone in the world) will know you are a follower of Christ, because of your love for others. The opposite of love for others is love of self. Lately, I have seen some usually Godly people become a shadow of who they were because fear overcame them, leading to reactionary self-preservation, leading to selfishness, leading to every evil thing.

But, we will get to that.

The atmosphere lately is heavy. Fear is creeping in further, taking more ground. No matter how much I pray, it is thick in the air. (I posted about a spirit of fear a couple posts ago)

My heart is saddened by the panic and crazy over stocking of products that people are doing. Friday, I left work and pulled into the store to pick up some storage containers (just a usual errand) and pulled next to a vehicle where a couple was loading it full of toilet paper, soap and bleach. How lost are we that we do not trust that God will provide? How did we as a society lose all hope? And what is with all this selfishness?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
God will give us the grace to get through this – let’s just keep praying.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

The last time I wrote about this Covid-19 pandemic – I tried to focus on tools to fight off fear and battle for your mind.  But let’s get control of our actions and spirit as well.  They will know we are Christians by our love – what then will they think of us by our selfishness?
It shows bondage to fear – It shows no love or concern for others – It shows no faith in God’s promises – when we overly stock up on supplies to the point where our stores are empty and others in need left without.

“For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” James 3:16
Take warning, this behavior is not loving your neighbor as yourself and it is the essence of “every evil thing”.  Let us not get ensnared as followers of Christ.

In the midst of this pandemic, I am already on a walk with God who is shining light into my life to grow me and change me. I am already praying for others to come to and grow in their walk with the Lord.
I believe God showed me this same spirit of selfishness in one person I have been praying for when they confessed to me that they think they are being selfish and feel they cannot help it.  I have been praying for God to break the bond of selfishness in him.

I have been doing a devotional on love and got to the chapter about: Love isn’t selfish. I saw it as a confirmation to my prayers and continued praying for my friend. Then I seemed to stall out – unable to proceed in my devotional book. I reread it and immediately could not remember what I read. I did it again. And again. I found myself struggling to be kind and caring. I found myself struggling in obedience to God’s will. I found myself fighting…. Myself.
Even the great apostle Paul said in Romans 7:19 NIV: “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.” 
Even Paul struggled with flesh while God worked within him. There is ALWAYS room for improvement and growth and this struggle of trying to be obedient will always exist as long as you are growing in the Lord.  So, what area is God pointing out to me?

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5 NIV

Oof! That hits home!  Here I am talking about the selfishness of the toilet paper hoarders and the selfishness of my friend and I have a huge plank in my eye!!!
What do you mean you don’t see it? What do you mean I do not seem to be a selfish person?  Just because I hide it well, doesn’t mean it is not there.

I was abused as a child. I have endured many Godless relationships with people who did not treat me fairly or kindly. I have said from the start: my love is broken – I do not understand love and I do not know how to give or receive love.  Then, I was blessed with a series of sermons on God’s love and then another series on God’s love over the past few months. I got a devotional book to work on this as well. I am blessed.
So, what does this have to do with selfishness??? 
The toilet paper hoarders do so out of fear and self-preservation – not knowing what to do with something they cannot control, they control the things they can.  I built up wall, after wall, after wall around my heart out of fear of being abused, vulnerable and hurt – it was self-preservation. I cannot control the actions of others but I can control my feelings and keep everyone at a distance.
Toilet paper hoarders have toilet paper, so others are left without access to toilet paper.
Walls around my heart hoard hurt emotions (and prevent Gods love from flowing in and out of me), so others are left without access to love from me or from God through me. It is selfish – just as selfish is taking all the toilet paper. Just as selfish as my friend who keeps hurting me because all he cares about is his fleshly desires instead of anyone else’s emotions and value.
[Dear Heavenly Father – I acknowledge my selfishness, my sin. Please forgive me and give me the grace to acknowledge when I want to be selfish and how to repent from this pattern of behavior. Help me heal and not be selfish any further. Thank you for your merciful forgiveness!
In the precious and powerful name of Jesus, rebuke the spirit of selfishness in me, in my friend, and in my community! And push back that spirit of fear so that Jesus can be glorified in me, my friend and my community!!!! Change us, soften our hearts, let our emotions be healed, safe and protected in you so that we can be free to accept your love and have it flow through us to fulfill your will, glorify your son, and draw others to you. Let them know we are Christians by our love! Help us be the love you want us to be. Thank you for preparing us for your blessings and healing us and our community. Through Christ Jesus we pray, amen]

As the Lord works on me, my heart is heavy today for the hopeless and lost. I hurt for those driven by a spirit of fear to practice selfishness and every evil thing. This selfishness is an affront to our Father who created the heavens and earth and is wealthy and resourceful enough to provide for all our needs. Be cautious not to slide down that slide and not to lose faith and remember our hope is in the Lord.

Psalm 33:20-22 NLT
“20 We put our hope in the Lord.
    He is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
    for our hope is in you alone.”

Therefore, they will know we are Christians by our love and know we are evil by our selfishness.

Please agree with me in prayer, in love, for the people in our community who are bound by this fear.  Fear and worry weaken the immune system and can cause all diseases to spread more quickly and further. God is still ultimately in control. He’s got this and we need to pray it through and resist selfishness.

Thanks for reading – Be healthy and blessed – pray Psalms 91