Don't Focus on Self{Philippians 2:3-4; NLT}
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

People are strange. We get all worked up over gas prices, and then drive the most gas consuming vehicles we can find. We complain about the environment, but we are willing to buy anything that is disposable and we are quick to throw out last year’s model for the small improvements found on this year’s model. We support anti-bullying campaigns, but we are quick to demonize people who do not agree with us. We live in a culture that promotes a “me first” mentality.

It is difficult to change our perspective.  Commercials constantly tell us that “we can have it our way” and that we deserve nothing but the best.  Politics remind us that we need to stand up for our rights.  Over and over again we are told that we are the center of the universe.

Consider what Erwin McManus wrote in his book Uprising:

In the midst of our growing fragmentation, we have never been more focused on the individual than we are today. This focus plays itself out in unbridled consumerism. While materialism is certainly an outgrowth of consumerism, it isn’t its primary focus. Consumerism’s primary product in our culture is narcissism. Remember, narcissism is a life in which everything is about us.

From a cheating spouse to the teenager looking to get high what we are ultimately after is whatever  will bring us a few moments of pleasure or will bring some form of happiness into our day. The consequences of our actions are not considered because we are living for the moment. What we are most concerned about is the experience and we hope the future will take care of itself.

Here is the problem as I see it: We might find pleasure for the short term in pursuing a life that is all about ourselves, but sooner or later the consequences of that type of life will catch up to us. Even worse, usually the pain and misery of these consequences outweigh any of the pleasure we experienced in the moment. Mostly because those consequences affect those people around us.

Because a self-centered life will produce addictions in a person what will happen is to escape the negative consequences we will engage in even more selfish experiences. A person who has destroyed their life with sexual promiscuity will become even more promiscuous. The person who has shipwrecked their lives with drugs will turn to harder or different drugs to take away the pain. A life lived for “me” will always be trapped in a cycle of pleasure and consequences. Sadly, most people will not connect the consequences with their pleasure seeking ways. Instead  they will end up blaming either other people or circumstances for their situation.

One of the most common phrases in the New Testament is the phrase one another. We are called to love, serve, forgive, encourage, and help one another. Understanding this concept will help us to discover that the best life is a life lived for others.  A self-centered life makes us miss out on the life God created us to live.

When we reflect on our lives we realize that the best times we have experienced are times we spent with people and invested in their lives.  Relationships are where we experience the best life. Since relationships provide us with the best life has to offer, then we should focus our time and attention on other people rather than living a life that is focused squarely on us.

The apostle John wrote; Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love (NLT). Love is what makes the difference.  When we love people we will seek ways to serve them, encourage them, and to spend time with them. The life of a Christian is one where our focus is removed from “me” and is put on God and then on others.

We are not the most important thing in the universe. To live our lives as if we were will lead us to experience a very dissatisfying life.  It is when we put others ahead of ourselves that we are able to experience the life God created us to live.

Questions to consider:

  • Why is it so easy to live a self-centered life?
  • How does a self-centered life make us miss the life God created us to live?
  • Why are relationships so important for us to experience life?
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