3 Lessons I’ve Learned About Selfishness, Day 6
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Our selfless Lord and Savior went to the cross for us, an excruciatingly painful death bearing our sin on His innocent shoulders so that we may be set free from the penalty of sin and be made right with the Father once again. He sacrificed everything so that we might have everything.
Why is it that Christians still struggle with selfishness? Knowing this truth in your head is a lot different than believing it in your heart and putting it into practice with your hands. Today I want to recap from my blog the top 3 life lessons I’ve learned about selfishness vs. selflessness in my marriage, and add some new lessons I’ve learned since writing before.
#1 Selfishness Breeds Distraction
Selflessness Reflects Attentiveness
Selfishness says “it’s okay to be distracted; what I’m doing is MORE important.” Selflessness says, “I don’t want to be distracted; I want to spend time with you because that is MOST important.”
1 Corinthians 13:5 says, “(love) is not self-seeking.” Love doesn’t put off your husband because what you’re doing is MORE important. Love allows itself to be inconvenienced.
Remember the story of Martha and Mary? Jesus came to their house and Martha spent the entire time in the kitchen and was angry that Mary was not helping her, and questioned Jesus about it. Mary had been sitting at the feet of Jesus soaking up every word. Now what Martha was doing wasn’t in that of itself selfish, but she made TASKS more important than RELATIONSHIP. Jesus responds in Luke 10:41-42, “Martha, Martha… you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
If you’re married, take time to spend quality time with your spouse. Don’t be SO distracted by tasks (good things like chores, work, taking care of the kids, etc) that you neglect the relationship with your spouse, and with your Lord. Start each day with prayer, praying that God would keep you focused on each other, that you wouldn’t neglect your spouse’s needs, and that God would take away negative distractions. And the key phrase is “SO distracted.” Taking care of the kids, keeping the house clean, writing your marriage blog… those are all good and godly things, but when “busyness” takes the place of a deep intimate relationship with your God and your spouse then you’re driving a wedge into your household, marriage, and heart.
This is a good thing to keep in mind too as a dating and engaged lady. Doing things for the Lord and for your future spouse and for others doesn’t add to or subtract from your salvation. We are saved by grace, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). When you’re so preoccupied with doing a task and you place emphasis on “your” finishing the task, it quickly goes from selflessness to selfishness. “I need to get this done no matter what even if it means I neglect my devotions or forget to call my fiancé today” vs. “I’m doing this to bring glory to my God and my future spouse (or someone else).” Don’t be so preoccupied with wedding plans that you neglect your friendship with your future husband.
Selflessness reflects attentiveness by saying “I recognize you have physical, emotional, and spiritual needs outside of this task I’m trying to complete.” The dishes can wait for an hour or two. The wedding invitations can continue getting stamped tomorrow. Spend some quality time with your honey and with God.
#2 Selfishness Breeds Deception
Selflessness Reflects Truth
Selfishness makes you think that YOU are the most important person in your marriage (and in your life). Selfishness gives YOU a hall pass to do whatever YOU think is best for YOU. Selfishness encourages YOU to set unrealistic expectations for yourself, your marriage, and especially your spouse, and when your spouse doesn’t live up to these expectations, selfishness lets YOU off the hook with however YOU react. Selfishness allows YOU to think everything’s going ok in your marriage.
It’s illusion. Notice the number of times I typed YOU. 7 times and that doesn’t count “yours.” YOU are not the center of your marriage. God is and should always be. And then you need to put your husband first.
Selfishness disconnects you from reality and causes to believe unrealistic, false, and misleading views of yourself, your spouse, and God. Titus 3:3, 4-5 says, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures…But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.” It’s not what we do; it’s what God does. But selfishness blinds us to this reality. Verse 8 calls us to devote ourselves to what is good – loving and serving God and our husbands.
First and foremost, you need to confess your sin of selfishness and sacrifice the idol of self on His altar. Jesus was crucified with our sins on the cross. You have forgiveness. Secondly, write down what your expectations of for marriage(if you aren’t married yet) and your marriage(if you’re already married) are and update that frequently. Discuss these regularly with your fiancé/spouse. Communication is key to any relationship, especially marriage. It acts as the bridge between a husband and a wife and it’s important to keep these bridges built so you don’t deceive yourself into thinking it’s okay never to cross them.
Selflessness reflects truth of God’s Word when He says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4
#2 Selfishness Breeds Dissatisfaction
Selflessness Builds Satisfaction
Next time you’re dissatisfied with your fiancé/spouse, ask yourself why. Is it really because he’s not doing this or he’s been doing that? Or is it because you’ve been focusing too much on your own needs or desires? Have you been thinking about serving him? Have you been thinking about what his needs and desires are?
Dissatisfaction is a two way street. But arguing with your fiancé/spouse is NOT going to fix the problem. Selflessness – the Christlike response – calls you to go above and beyond the call of duty. It calls you to reach out and love and respect your husband even when he is unlovable.
Selfishness says turn your back on your fiancé/spouse. Selflessness says turn toward your fiancé/spouse and love him anyway.
Do something extravagant to surprise him! Cook him a candlelight dinner, dress up, and serve it to him. Or take him out to dinner and treat him for a change. Or less extravagant, and invite him on a walk in the park or the woods for a picnic.
Acknowledge your own selfishness and apologize. Tell him why you’ve been feeling dissatisfied, but remind him you still love him.
Why are you doing this? Well you attract a lot more flies with honey! Love your honey and he will want to love you. I can’t tell you the number of times I wonder why I let my own self-centeredness get in the way of my love for Adam. When I do love him well, when I cast off selfishness and I embrace selflessness through the strength Christ Jesus gives me, Adam is on top of his game and I’m incredibly satisfied.
But don’t do something just to get something in return. Love without expecting anything in return. Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Put off selfishness. Consider the root of the problem – what desires are behind your selfish tendencies? Ask God to make you new, to give you the right attitude, and pursue peace, righteousness, and holiness for the sake of pleasing God, not getting something from your husband. If you are content in the Lord, you can work toward contentment in your marriage.
1 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Love is not self-seeking…” Selfishness breeds distraction, deception, and dissatisfaction. Selfishness equals disaster in marriage. Selflessness reflects attentiveness and truth, and builds satisfaction. Seek to put your fiancé/spouse first. Pay attention to his needs/desires even if they conflict with your plans. Reflect Christlikeness.
This is Day 6 of the ½ marathon blogging challenge from the CMBA. For the first 13 days in October, you will get a nonstop taste of my writing. To see the official rules, click here. To see other CMBA bloggers’ posts, click here.
I’d love to hear from you…
What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you agree? Why or why not? How do you show honor to your husband/fiance? How can we, married ladies, encourage single ladies to prepare for the “honor” part of marriage?