What comes to mind when you hear this word? Cringing and drudgery, or joy and freedom?
Let's take a look.
We are naturally selfish, focused on our self, and wanting what we want to satisfy ourselves. Selflessness is not something that we come by automatically.
Here is the amazing thing:
Selfishness is natural.
Selflessness is supernatural.
Selflessness is only possible because of Jesus.
While basically anyone can, should, and will be blessed when they choose to put others first in action - true selflessness is really a condition of our heart that flows out in how we live our lives. This is transformation only Jesus can bring.
It is a change from a focus on self to focus on Jesus, Who fulfills you and enables you to focus on others.
This change begins at salvation when you turn from following self to follow Christ, and it continues for your whole life with Jesus on earth as He works in you.
Just this morning I was reading John 3 and read once again that beautiful verse, "He must increase, but I must decrease."
This is the beautiful thing - the "less" of self, means the "more" of Jesus in our lives! I want this, don't you?
The more we are emptied of ourselves, and the more we are filled with Jesus, the more we will taste the sweet freedom of selflessness. It is a process - and it can be painful, because self does not like to decrease - but, the increase of Jesus FAR outweighs it.
I don't know about you, but when I am focused on myself, I am empty, unfulfilled, and miserable. But, when I am allowing Jesus to empty me of self, fill me, and love others through me, there is so much joy!
This is a reality that has been transforming my world:
I can freely deny myself when I realize that Jesus is all I need.
Do you see how this works? When I have everything in Jesus, I no longer need to look for fulfillment, acclaim, rights, etc. - I have all in Jesus and know He cares for me!
Then I can follow His example.
He gave of Himself, so that I could have all in Him. I can now deny myself for Him and so that He can give Himself through me to others.
The Lord has recently been deepening this in my heart in the area of sensitive availability to my family. I can be going about what I think is the Lord's role for me in a day - and then a need comes up for someone close to me. I sense a gentle tug of the Holy Spirit in my heart to set the project aside and see how Jesus can use me to minister to that person - sometimes it is simply a hug, helping them with a project, or praying with them. In that moment, I can listen to Jesus, deny myself, and reach out to that person - and if I do, there is so much joy, more of Jesus, and He works. I want to live in this every day - and Jesus delights to grow us!
I love, love, love this passage about Jesus and our call because Him:
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." ~ Philippians 2:3-11
This is where true life is found - in denying ourselves and letting Jesus increase in us and through us to others!
What is an area you feel the Lord calling you to less of self and more of Him in today, friend? I am asking myself the same question. Let's let Him work and bring the sweetness of selflessness in us!
I do want to whisper a little clarification to those of you who may be like I was and think this may mean something it doesn't - it does not mean that you never get sleep, or have to say "yes" to every person's request - and definitely it does not mean that you give up what God has shown you is right! We are humans with God-given limitations. Selflessness is a heart condition and attitude of yielded focus on Jesus instead of self, and then on others, to pour out your life for Him however He leads!
Selflessness is saying "no" to self and "yes" to Jesus. It is putting Jesus first and then allowing Him to turn our eyes to others. It is a heart transformation by Jesus that radiates out in our lives in joy, freedom, and service.
When we are selfless, the world sees something different.
I want to live a life whose only explanation is Jesus. Selflessness is one of those things.
Knowing this is only possible with Jesus, let's run to Him, find all in Him, and allow Him to give to others through us.
In this we will taste more and more the sweetness of selflessness - more of Jesus in and through our lives!