by Pastor Tim Burt
As I look back in my life, I would say that prior to receiving Jesus as my Lord and Savior, my life was about me, myself, and I. I didn’t know Jesus, and had never read a Bible. I had nothing to guide my thoughts or actions other than my upbringing and the voices of society. Learning about Jesus and discovering how unselfish He was, opened my eyes to how selfish I was. Getting married and having children seemed to amplify my selfishness even more. In the beginning, it was difficult to compromise and adapt to my wife’s needs. When we brought our first baby home from the hospital, I quickly discovered that our daughter was 100 percent dependent upon us. I knew my selfish ways had to come to an end. My life was no longer just going to be about what I wanted.
God’s Word taught me to consider and prefer the needs of others before myself. Whew that was a long, painful, and difficult road of learning and growing. And here’s the saddest part. It never needed to be painful! It was only painful because I allowed myself to feel like a martyr. Jesus supplied my attitude adjustment in Mark 9:35 (NKJV) Jesus said, “…If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” When this truth of being a servant to those around me became a revelation in my heart, my attitude and my life changed forever!
In order to love my family and others the way Jesus did, I had to learn to prefer and put other’s needs ahead of my own. That seemed so contrary to who I was at that time. But, as I begin to practice it, it helped me mature and truly changed my character forever!
Did I ever have moments where I felt like I was doing much more serving than others serving me? Of course I did but I’m sure it wasn’t true. It just felt like it. Your mind and emotions are selfish in their nature. They like to whine and complain! They like to have their own pity parties! That’s why you have to let your spirit-man lead you, not your mind and emotions or your lazy flesh. God speaks through His Holy Spirit directly to our spirit when we are listening. Romans 8:14 (NLT) says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.”
The Holy Spirit speaking to our spirit is what guides our character to become Christ-like. It will make us truly whole and keeps us on the best path of life obeying God. That is what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he said in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV) “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” To be sanctified means to live by God’s instruction, not the selfish ways of the world. It means the Holy Spirit is going to lead your spirit and your spirit will lead your soul (your mind and emotions) and your body. Your spirit-man is the boss, not your selfish flesh or your whiny mind and emotions. When this happens, it will preserve you and make you whole and blameless!
When you are busy at work and raising a family and working, martyrish feelings come. But, as you learn to make your life about serving others knowing that this is how greatness is developed in you, it becomes the desired way to live. It constantly beats down your dangerous ego and pride and that is a good thing! As you lean on and trust God knowing that there will be blessing in it, you will see the fruit of it in your life. You will spiritually grow and mature. You will develop in your leadership character. You will become a person that has learned a beautiful life secret that few to many ever really learn. God doesn’t ask us to do things unless they ultimately bless us in the long run. The Apostle Paul learned these truths and taught them also. He said, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 (NKJV)
Now here we are years later with a whole lot of preferring going on. Renee and I both serve each other. It’s no longer us fighting our flesh and it’s not hard. We don’t feel like martyrs. We love to serve each other, our children, and people we are around, every day. It has become a lifestyle that God has worked in us. He took two selfish people and by His Spirit, transformed us into two people who have learned to make their life about serving others. It’s made our life rich in blessing and we thank God always for showing us the way and doing this work in us. It’s where joy and wholeness come from!
Romans 12:10 (NKJV) “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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