I spend a lot of time writing about SELF on my blog. That’s because I too frequently see it destroy marriages and relationships with God. It is the slyest device the devil can use to sidetrack us from God’s will for our life and marriage. (Of course, we don’t need the devil to operate in SELF – he just takes advantage of our SELFishness.)
SELF may be the most difficult part of our personality to quench. It can seem noble and necessary at times, even the right thing to do. Noble and necessary to whom, though - that is the question. It may be to the world in which we live, but not to God.
To God, SELF is a blatant denial of what is right for your life that goes against every plan He initiates. Obliging your SELF equals serving the devil.
Even more subtle is a level of SELF that we all get stuck in occasionally. That level consists of the times we face the big challenges in our lives. The severity of an issue may cause us to focus all our energy on the problem, consuming everything we do. We then begin to struggle with every day living. We may pull away from friends and activities we enjoy. Maintaining a healthy marriage may lose its priority in our lives. Many of us become depressed because life sometimes seems so overwhelming that we don’t know how to continue in a happy, carefree way, even with the help of God.
SELF can be the culprit that causes us to remain longer than necessary in these states of helplessness and joylessness. We get so caught up in SELF-pity that we forget about our reason for existing on this planet – to reach out to others.
I find it interesting that SELF-indulgence and SELF-absorption are two synonyms for SELF-pity. We all experience SELF-pity once in a while; it’s allowable if not taken to the extreme. Everyone understands a short bout with SELF-pity. But SELF-indulgence and SELF-absorption sound more detestable, saved for those people who are obviously, intolerably SELFish and inconsiderate of the needs of others. Yet, all three of these SELFs appear interchangeable in my thesaurus. SELF, no matter how you color it, is not pretty.
Isn’t this just what happens to us when we become so preoccupied with our own problems that we fail to see the needs of those around us?
Romans 12: 10-13 says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourSELVES. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need.”
Even the secular world tells us that the best way to overcome SELF-pity is to reach out to someone else in need.
We live in a world full of struggles and problems. We are not immune to them, but we can’t allow them to interfere with our spiritual walk or our purpose to help others. When I’m inundated with living in this world, I often sing the old hymn, “This world is not my home I'm just a passin' through.” I have to remind myself that this is a temporary stopping ground.
My spiritual health should be my concern. Finances, physical health, and relationships will always provoke problems. It is how we deal with those problems that show those around us just what kind of witness we are to the love of God. That is a powerful way of reaching out to others.