From Self-Centered to Others-Centered
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24) Maturity is seeking ways to benefit others and build them up in the Lord. My newborn baby is not trying to help me out. He’s not trying to help me change fewer diapers. He’s not worried about how much sleep I get at night. Babies are focused on themselves—I’m hurt, hungry, tired, cranky, I want more, I want this, I want that. There’s a purpose for that, for they are very weak, and it helps us know their needs, so we can take care of them, and we teach them as they grow. My eight-year-old’s back hurts, but he’s going to run up another cartload of firewood anyway, because he’s learning how to serve others. For a 20-year-old to cry because he’s hungry, or to stomp his feet because he doesn’t get what he wants, shows he gotten older without gaining maturity. There are people who like that who haven’t matured—and then they tangle with police officers and other realities of life, and have to figure it out from there.
To grow up in the Lord, He tells the newborn baby in Christ, “Desire the sincere milk of the word.” (1 Peter 2:2) Store it up. Especially when your brain is still young—but it’s never too old, though it takes more work to store up the scriptures. I’m amazed at how much more my children can memorize than I can. They just pack it in. But whether it feels easy or hard, just get the Word into your mind and heart, and then you can chew on it later.
Let’s look at 2 Timothy 3: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves.” (2 Timothy 3:1-2) And then these things follow: “covetous [that means loving money], boasters [that means they like talking about themselves], proud [that means they think highly of themselves], blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.” These are some of the fruits of those who are “lovers of their own selves.”
I try to avoid the magazine aisle. Those things are mostly about you. There’s even a magazine called Self. “Oh, yeah, I’m already pretty good, but I’m going to get that magazine and see how I can make myself better.” The Lord would lead us from pride and selfishness to serving others. Self-centered: I always have a problem, I need everybody to help me, and fix me, and cure me, and encourage me, and bless me.
Now it’s true that new believers are just learning what it means to become established, and they need to be poured into. New babies need to be poured into. They don’t run the household, but the whole household is attentive to their needs. The temperature is kept just right for that newborn baby—you don’t want them to get sick. When they’re napping, you want to keep the noise level down so they can get enough sleep. But they ought not to be ruling the house. And the same thing in the church. We should surround the newborn Christians with attentive care and pour into them, but they ought not to run the Lord’s house.
Being others-focused is humble, serving others. Jesus said, “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14)—to help and serve each other. When we see a piece of trash lying around, it’s easy to think, “That’s not mine,” and walk on by. Then we ignore 14 more, because, “I didn’t do it.” But the spirit of serving one another would say, “Oh, someone dropped that. Maybe they didn’t notice, or maybe they just didn’t care, but I’m going to take care of the problem for them.” Washing one another’s feet is to serve.
1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” If you’ve given your life to the Lord Jesus Christ, you don’t own it anymore, He does. He’s the boss, He’s the master and Lord, as we just read in John. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20) Serving others is not about making everybody like you, it’s about offering your body as a sacrifice to the Lord.