August 12, 2019
It is good to be back home again and ready to get busy doing what God has called us to do!! I am praying for you today that God would give you purpose today! I am praying that you might do more than just “take up space” today. Life is too short to waste a single day or a single moment. Spend those days and moments doing what God has given you a passion to do!!
Yesterday Pastor Ernesto preached a sermon about how important it is for us to ALL be involved in reaching out so that our church will grow. Our church MUST grow. Anything that is NOT growing is dying. He played a video at the start that mentioned how 97% of the people in NYC do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and if they were to die today they would spend an eternity without God. Even as that stat was given I wondered to myself how many of us really care about the people of NYC (or anywhere else). I wondered if some people might even be thinking in the darkness of their heart about how the earth might even be better off without them. I know that sounds cruel but this is the world we live in today. There doesn’t seem to be much compassion for our fellow human beings. Self-centeredness seems to be at an all-time high. I remember the 1980’s being called the “Me Generation.” It was really a term coined about the “Baby Boomers.” Yes, my generation. It was a generation where the rise of narcissism took hold. I was reading this description today where the article said about the Me Generation, “The development of a youth culture focusing so heavily on self-fulfillment was also perhaps a reaction against the traits that characterized the older generation, which had grown up during the Great Depression. That generation had learned values associated with self-sacrifice. The deprivations of the Depression had taught that generation to work hard, save money and not spend it; to cherish family and community ties. Loyalty to institutions, traditional religious faiths, and other common bonds were what that generation considered to be the cultural foundations of their country. Baby boomers gradually abandoned those values in large numbers, a development that was entrenched during the 1970s.”
I would submit to you that today our narcissism has reached even greater heights than the 1970s or the 1980s. We don’t need to look any further than the fanaticism of social media and the “selfie” addiction in our culture today. The sin of selfishness is something I have spoken about since I was a Youth Pastor many years ago. It is something the Bible warns about repeatedly. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit . . .” I wonder today how many of us (me included) are not doing what God would have us do because we are more concerned about ourselves than we are about our neighbor? Where is the compassion for those who are lost all around us? Where is the compassion for the people of NYC? Where is the compassion for the orphans of Jamaica or Nigeria (where Walt and Karen Troup serve)? In an article called “Is Selfishness a Sin?” the author illustrates the effects of selfishness:
Being selfish instead of denying sin when we are tempted, makes us extremely unhappy: “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” James 3:16. When we choose to be selfish in any way (e.g. being greedy, being jealous instead of rejoicing for others, doing those things we know to be wrong), we will continue to be stuck in the cycle of being frustrated, lost, unable to make spiritual progress, and unhappy.
Making selfish choices will result in a lost connection and life with God; we cannot have it both ways. We cannot keep a little bit of our life (living to serve our own will) – even some of the time – and also live for God. That mindset is called doublemindedness: “… purify your hearts, you double-minded;” James 4:8, and God will not give His blessing to such people. (Revelation 3:16)
In another article the author gives us some sure ways to combat selfishness in our own lives:
Prayer and a love of Scripture are necessary as well. “Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain” (Psalm 119:36). Love covers a multitude of sins, including selfishness. If we are truly “devoted to one another in brotherly love” (Romans 12:10), we cannot be selfish. Having the attitude of Christ is to demonstrate tenderness and compassion for all those we come in contact with.
Another sure cure for selfishness is to know where our treasure is. The Christian holds the things of this world loosely because he is laying up “treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-21). He knows it is “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), and he lives according to the truth that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Reaching people means that we first have to see them and have compassion on them. But even before that we have to take our eyes off of ourselves to even notice the lost and hurting around us and around the world. Overcoming selfishness will only happen as we rely on the Holy Spirit to grow us and change us. Greg Laurie says, “The church exists for three reasons: the glorification of God, the edification of the saints, and the evangelization of the world. Upward, inward, and outward.” I pray today that we are doing all three!!
Just FYI: Some continue to ask when we will be sharing about Jamaica. I keep telling them that we will definitely be doing that before we step down at the end of September. You can be sure that the last couple of weeks we will be sharing more about Jamaica and where God is calling us next. In the meantime if you are interested please check out www.ReachJamaica.com. I ask you today to prayerfully consider investing in the lives of orphans in Jamaica!
Last Word: A belated Happy Birthday to my daughter-in-love, Amanda Hixon, wife of my son, Micah Hixon, and mother of two of my grandsons!!
I am ON MISSION Today! Are You?