As I transition into my freshman year of college, a lot of my summer has been spent thinking about myself and my future. The entire past three months have been centered around getting sleep, going out, dating, registering for classes, and travelling this summer. While all of these thoughts might seem normal for someone my age, they are all centered around one thing: me! In the wake of my busy summer, I found it difficult to see outside the scope of my own needs. I thought of my needs as more important than others, and that led me to isolate myself both physically and emotionally, closing myself off to taking interest in others. So while on the outside I spent a lot of time working, volunteering, or being involved in Bible studies, my mind and thoughts were focused on my own needs, rather than looking to inspire and impact others. When it comes to serving and doing good, I often see things only in relation to how I can benefit from it and how it will make me look.
When you are consumed with yourself
Remember this: If you have a lofty opinion of yourself and seek to be honored, you will be humbled. But if you have a modest opinion of yourself and choose to humble yourself, you will be honored.”
Matthew 23:12 TPT
Jesus shows us that those who are consumed with themselves and seek to honor themselves will not be honored by God. He is not pleased by someone who thinks highly of themselves, but by someone who thinks highly of others. Rather than think about ourselves all the time, God pushes us to humble ourselves, and put others in front of ourselves. Here are some signs that show you are consumed with yourself:
- You constantly look forward to the next moment of your “me time”, or time that you have by yourself to take a nap, binge netflix, etc.
- If you pray, the majority of your prayer is spent on yourself, instead of others.
- Spending time on and taking interest in others feels like a lot of work.
- You feel down, unwilling, and tired when someone asks you to help them out with something, and you are only willing to help if it is convenient for you.
- You consistently bring conversations back to the subject of yourself, and have a hard time listening to others.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
Psalm 10:4 ESV
Because he is proud, that evil person doesn’t turn to the Lord.
There is no room for God in any of his thoughts.
Psalm 10:4 NIrV
When we only think about and are consumed with ourselves (“in the pride of his face”), there is no room for God in our hearts and lives. In our pride, we don’t think we need God or others, and only make room for ourselves in our thoughts. When we don’t make room for God and others, we can’t become refreshed, sustained, or strengthened by God and the Bible. We only rely on ourselves, and so are only capable of strengthening ourselves, and even that isn’t enough.
Jesus was others-focused, not self-focused
In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit. But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant. And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death—death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8 NCV
Jesus provides the most powerful example of putting others before yourself. Jesus was completely obedient to God, by willingly going onto the cross and making himself nothing. Rather than think about his own life, Jesus thought of you and me instead, and chose to make our lives more important than his own. He had to be willing to make room in his thoughts for God and others. This took true humility and trust that God would take care of him. With God taking care of him, he is freed up to care for and love other people. The same is true for us!
How we live for others
Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.
Philippians 2:3-4 TLB
This scripture teaches us how we can have the same heart Jesus had. While we may not have to experience the pain of being crucified, God wants us to live with the same humility, sympathy and selflessness that Jesus had while he was on Earth. When we are freed up from allowing God to meet our needs so we don’t have to, we can look to meet others’ needs, valuing and becoming interested in their lives. Here are some things that I am working on to think of others as better than myself:
- Doing Good. Volunteering and contributing to the community is one of the simplest and undisguised to value others instead of yourself. Whether you are volunteering with kids, going to a homeless shelter, or helping at a senior center, God is pleased when we give enthusiastically (Luke 12:33-34).
- Listening to others. As simple as this sounds, simply listening to others, and taking an interest in them can go a long way in making others feel loved and valued. (Proverbs 19:20).
- Meeting the needs in others. Praying every day for vision in how you can meet the needs of your friends, how you can be a better friend. Practically this would mean calling your friends, spending time with them, and becoming invested in in their interests. (John 15:13)
While living for others takes time, driving hours, money and sacrifice, God honors those who value others above themselves. When we stop living self-consumed and self-focused lives, we can start to live for a purpose bigger than ourselves!
To find out more about how to live for a bigger purpose, register for our upcoming Expo titled “Purpose” on August 17-19!