What’s the oldest disease known to man? I’ll give you a hint.
It’s two letters long and long over two thousand years old.
Give up? I’ll give you a second think… Ok, got it yet?
Here’s another hint – I’ll even write you a riddle!
It doesn’t like you, and it can’t stand them;
It’s not about others, yet it’s the heart of most men.
Alright, that’s about as much suspense as most readers can handle. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, please allow me to introduce to you… the Disease of Me.
In his book “The Winner Within,” Pat Riley warns of the dangers of “The Disease of Me.” He writes how his former team, the Lakers, allowed their egos to cause one of the quickest falls in the history of the NBA. They had won the championship in 1980. They were chosen to win it for a second consecutive time, but resentment, competitiveness, and discord set in among the players. They bickered over who was getting the attention and recognition they individually felt they deserved. As a result, the Lakers shifted their attention from the teamwork of winning to the self-centeredness of whining. They lost in the first round of the playoffs. Riley summed it up by saying, “The Disease of Me leads to the Defeat of Us.” In The Winner Within, he describes it as the overpowering belief in the importance of oneself. “The most difficult thing for individuals to do when they’re part of the team is to sacrifice
Londa Duncan in Touching Lives
The Disease of Me is perhaps part of the human condition. It is obstacle we all must face and overcome if we want to embrace God’s destiny for our lives.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
A pure heart is not tainted by self. A pure heart is not corrupted by self interest, selfish ambition, self-importance, or self-deception. Our faith is lost and love grows cold when we no longer see God intimately and actively moving in our daily life, when sin begins preoccupying and deceiving our hearts.
21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Luke 9:21-25 NIV
How do we know we really want a relationship with God? Deny ourselves and taking up our cross. Each of us have a choice: wanting what God wants over what we want!
24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?
Luke 9:24-25 NIV
Jesus said, “If you want to be my disciple,” which implies that the first step is choosing the target of our desire. Then our actions follow our heart’s desires. Anyone can say, “I am a Christian,” but is there any other evidence in your life that you are living how a disciple lives?
And as we look honestly at our Christian lives, we can see how much of this self there is in each of us…It is always self who gets irritable and envious and resentful and critical and worried. It is self who is hard and unyielding in its attitudes to others. It is self who is shy and self-conscious and reserved. No wonder we need breaking. As long as self is in control, God can do little with us…”
Roy Hession, Calvary Road
It’s the selfishness that drives us to sin and wipes us out! Being a Christian is about getting rid of our instinctive self. If we don’t want to give up self, then anything we do is merely a game, pretend, routine, ritual… but not really being a Christian.
Here is one passage and six questions to help you overcome the Disease of Me.
1. Recognize: What’s Frustrating You?
16 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher,[a] what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
17 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep[b] the commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” the man asked.
And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. 19 Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”
21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Matthew 19:16-22 NLT
Many people become frustrated with Christianity because they want church to be something that just makes us feel better. We can become blinded – and even frustrated – by our own selfishness.
2. Ask: Who Needs You?
25 One day an authority on the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to receive eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you understand it?” 27 He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength and with all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ ” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do that, and you will live.” 29 But the man wanted to make himself look good. So he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Luke 10:25-29 NIRV
This teacher and authority of the law asks who his neighbor is, most likely hoping that many people are not his neighbors, and therefore, he won’t have to care about them. Let’s look inside our own hearts. How much do we care about the people around us? Who needs you?
3. Respond: What Opportunities Do You Have?
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by.
It was a 17 mile journey from Jerusalem to Jericho, often considered a dangerous route because of all the bandits and robbers along the way. By chance a man was walking one way, and by chance a priest came walking the other way. Every day, we cross paths with so many people. The question is: do we realize the opportunities all around us to make friends and make a difference?
It is by chance that we met, by choice that we became friends.
4. Admit: What Kind of Friend Have You Been?
A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
Luke 10:32-33 NIRV
Two Jews, holding some of the most esteemed religious positions in Israel, have deliberately ignored the needs of a helpless, half-dead robbery victim. Rather than help him, they simply chose to look the other way.
And now, approaching the same crime scene, comes a Samaritan, the lowest possible rung on the Jewish social ladder. This Samaritan, unlike the priest and the Levite, has a reason for his journey. He is on a trip. If anyone could excuse himself from getting involved, it was this Samaritan. But when he saw the man lying by the road, he reacted in a very different manner. The Samaritan, unlike the two religious Jews, felt compassion for the victim (verse 33).
Look at your own relationships: what kind of friend have you been?
5. Decide: What Kind of Friend Will You Be?
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
This Samaritan was used to being despised and overlooked. He used his experiences to make a difference in life of another. He kept believing and kept his heart compassionate. He decided that he would be certain type of person, a certain type of friend, no matter what.
You can decide the same thing.
What does it look like to love others and to put yourself on a shelf?
- Personal Interest – Saw people with compassion, not apathy
- Personal Involvement – Bandage the wounds
- Personal Sacrifice – Loaded him onto his own donkey
- Personal Attachment – Took him to an inn
- Personal Responsibility – Handed the innkeeper 2 silver coins
Which 2 of these convictions will you embrace to live out God’s purpose for your life?