Matthew 10:38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
(Gradual improvements, subtle continued growth, and steady fruitful progress is our aim.)
We can do this... if we are Christian ~ followers of Christ.
In a world of half truths, manipulation, exploitation, and other forms of deception we have been subsequently taught a variation of truth that is indeed a lie. It may be required to think with increased effort and face conflict to see the real truth.
Psalm 36:2 In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin. NIV
Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. NIV
Hebrews 11:25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. NIV
We correct our self-seeking thoughts, attitudes, and actions to better align them with God's Righteousness.
James 3:16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. NKJV
“Selfishness—self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity” Alcoholics Anonymous 4th edition page 62
Selfishness is obeying our ideas and personal understanding instead of God’s. We have faith in ourselves. This selfish faith is a problem that needs correction. The more we focus upon ourselves the less we serve God and each other, yet many of us need convincing. Pride, greed, lust, vanity, dishonesty, gluttony, procrastination, anger, and other forms of selfishness are destructive and we can’t see that then we are blind and will not understand what God has to offer.
Love, forgiveness, mercy, peace, generosity, kindness, gentleness, confession, repentance, brotherhood, unity, friendships, family, commitment, perseverance, personal integrity, honesty, dignity, respect, caring, and hospitality are examples of God’s grace which can save us. We do not create it or earn it through tasks, but we can apply effort to obey it. God’s character purifies and cleanses. God’s truth provides freedom if we choose to be part of it.
Most of us will look at everyone else and follow the crowd. We do what we see others do. We are called to be rebels. We are called to live more like Christ in such a way we look different.
The problem is that we listen to the lie which justifies our evil desires and fear of what other people might think. It is hidden inside us beneath our awareness prompting us not to look. If we looked long and hard at our destructive nature the way we viewed ourselves and the world around us would be different. If we placed our selfish destructive ways on paper and confessed it honestly to another human being with contrite hearts present in the experience we would begin an adjustment toward the righteousness of God.
Ephesians 5:5 Be therefore imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 Walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling fragrance. 3 But sexual immorality, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be mentioned among you, as becomes saints; 4 nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not appropriate; but rather giving of thanks.
5 Know this for sure, that no sexually immoral person, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words. For because of these things, the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience. 7 Therefore don’t be partakers with them. 8 For you were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, 9 for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth, 10 proving what is well pleasing to the Lord. 11 Have no fellowship with the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather even reprove them. WEB
In the beginning, God gave us choice with instructions. There have always been consequence to our choices. We have always fallen into temptation with selfish ambition and self-seeking. We want to be in control, yet following our own sinful desires continues to lead us into spiritual destruction of our heart, mind, and soul.
Deuteronomy 30 The Choice of Life or Death
11 For this commandment which I command you today is not too hard for you or too distant. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, and proclaim it to us, that we may do it?” 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, and proclaim it to us, that we may do it?” 14 But the word is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. 15 Behold, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and evil. 16 For I command you today to love Yahweh your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances, that you may live and multiply, and that Yahweh your God may bless you in the land where you go in to possess it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; 18 I denounce to you today, that you will surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you pass over the Jordan to go in to possess it. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life, that you may live, you and your descendants; 20 to love Yahweh your God, to obey his voice, and to cling to him; for he is your life, and the length of your days; that you may dwell in the land which Yahweh swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. WEB
John 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. NKJV
Romans 6:16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? NKJV
James 1:15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. NKJV
Self-examination ~ If we do not watch and guard ourselves, our prompting thoughts, we will have no defense against our sinful ways.
2 Corinthians 13:5 Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you—unless, indeed, you fail the test! NET
James 1:21 21 Therefore, putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with humility the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.[b] 22 But be doers of the word, and not only hearers, deluding your own selves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he sees himself, and goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of freedom, and continues, not being a hearer who forgets, but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in what he does. 26 If anyone among you thinks himself to be religious while he doesn’t bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is worthless. WEB
Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, “Watch out and guard yourself from all types of greed, because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” NET
Romans 2:6 He will reward each one according to his works: 7 eternal life to those who by perseverance in good works seek glory and honor and immortality, 8 but wrath and anger to those who live in selfish ambition and do not obey the truth but follow unrighteousness. NET
The process of our self-examination is to see how our character, thoughts, attitude, and actions measure with God’s. When we are ready, we list our faults, lies, resentments, and selfish desires that conflict with God’s righteousness. We review our thoughts, attitude, and actions. We do not excuse or justify any situations, blaming others etc. We truthfully evaluate our past and current condition regarding selfishness. We realize we are not evil people, but instead sick, and mislead by our faith in self. We are confused and deceived people now seeking God's righteousness for truth, mercy, guidance, and restoration. We accept our wrongs and own our selfish choices. We understand the truth can set us free, provided that we seek it out and continue to do so. We are now willing to take action before deception comes again and convinces us otherwise.
Immediate action upon revelation of truth is imperative due to our destructive habitual mindsets. Within a mind developed to live selfishly exists a multitude of excuses, rationalizations, justifications, and reasonings to continue in selfish ways. Such a mind is armed with many thoughts to creep in and deny Godly action. So we must act quickly before the light gets put out.
When we take new Godly action we create new cognitive experiences, which physiologically (body God made) changes us. When we experience love, compassion, forgiveness, and mercy with all sincerity something spiritually can often result which can have a powerful affect within our mind, heart, and soul. We ought to experience such things all the time, but for now, lets make every effort to experience such things once a day. Encourage, care, love, and intimately connect with others to learn God's power which exists beyond our immediate physical senses of sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch.
Our aim is to make achievable improvements toward fulfilling the greatest commandment. We are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. As we do so, our selfish desires tend to get in the way. So improving our awareness upon our selfishness can empower us to recognize it and redirect ourselves away from it and toward God (repent). We must face our destructive nature, remove blame and shame from our attitude, and seek out development of Godly character. Let's review some examples.
|Sin||What happened?||Heart affects||Righteous adjustment|
|Greed||I kept money for myself not thinking about or caring for others. Focus on selfish gains.||Fear of what others think, decreased self-esteem, guilt, feel separated or distanced emotionally||Increase sharing with others, Generosity, Mercy, seek building love, belonging, and peace|
|Lust||Envy others, want more, judge others by physical things, sexual gratification||Feel inadequate, Unsatisfied, empty, alone, superficial, shallow||End idolatry, correct deceptive thoughts, focus on other’s hearts, and Spirit, discuss temptation with God and others |
|Gluttony||Seeking food for good feelings, avoiding feelings||Feel ashamed, insecure, weak, anger toward self, helpless & hopeless attitude||End idolatry, instead of food or body image seek Spiritual connection with others, learn new coping skills to handle feelings, seek out compassion|
|Pride||Lied to others, condescending, wanted to be first, have the most, didn’t listen to or care for others||Feel insecure, about income, uncaring, selfish, better than others-alone, controlling, fear of trusting others||Humble ourselves, trust in God, seek out helping someone else, love someone who is in need|
|Resentment||People cheating, lying, selfish, lazy, two-faced, unfairness||Angry, guarded, defensive, thick boundaries, protective, far from compassion, love & peace||Forgiveness, mercy, do not hold anger, but in justice we protect ourselves from such mistreatment|
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having the utility belt of truth buckled around your waist, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having fitted your feet with the preparation of the Good News of peace; 16 above all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word[b] of God; 18 with all prayer and requests, praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the saints: WEB
Deception is within us all. The choice of God's truth or selfishness is all around us in our governing minds and our governing systems, including church. So we must begin each day with full attention to guard ourselves from self-deception and also from others who are deceived. All lies are sin because God does not lie. So we ought to practice great care to keep our thoughts, words, and action in God's truth. Intent to deceive others for whatever reason is ungodly. False flattery is sin. Making people feel good through deception is sin. If our hearts are troubled with fear, anger, etc. and that trouble brings others down, let them care and take responsibility for their feelings, thoughts, and choices. Have a sincere, truthful, and caring discussion about the matter instead of avoiding it or attempting passive manipulation. God is about truth and love, so lets put it into practice.
Be on guard
Matthew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.
Mark 13:22 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
Colossians 2:18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
Colossians 2:23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
Truth is absolutely necessary. We ought to avoid sabotaging pursuit of Godly character for the sake of our comfort or avoiding conflict. Suffering for increasing in God is part of growing in righteous activity. Suffering from sin leads to death, remorse, shame, emptiness, and loneliness. We must avoid lying to control or manipulate others, even if our goal is to make them feel better. Feeling better is often times the path into sin. Perhaps they need to suffer a little for the sake of God's righteousness. We all need pain to help us learn. Shame and remorse can be the way the spirit guides us away from wrong and evil. Covering hurt or blocking pain which was created to guide us blocks us from understanding that can lead us toward righteousness. It is important to listen to the pain and understand spiritually how to heal. We can't heal if we hide, deny, or run from the hurt. Truth with humility, sincerity, compassion, mercy, justice, and love with the intent of building God's kingdom within us and around us can be healing, freeing, fulfilling, bonding, nurturing, peacemaking, and joyful. The truth is we all can do this everyday, everywhere, with anyone.
Shame and Blame
Pointing out where everyone is wrong or seeking fault in everything places the attention of our spirit, heart, mind, and body toward stress, tension, and destruction. Understanding problems is helpful, but we must move quickly into the solution. Harping on blame with finger pointing and fualtfinding does little good toward any solution. This includes self blame. We must move our thoughts and attitudes into solutions quickly. We can grow gently and lovingly with kindness and encouragement within our thoughts and inward messages about ourselves, others, and world around us. We ought to seek out how we can help with practicing Godly solutions. God desires us to be helpful as leaders, not waiting around for someone else to do it. We now serve God and God is the great commander. There is no higher authority. God's liaison to guide us exists inwardly as the Holy Spirit. Most of us were taught to be followers of this world, but God teaches us to be followers of the spirit. We must persevere past the problems of the world and build love and peace within us and around us.
Adjusting our perspective
Growth is progressive. It builds upon itself over time. This is a fact of nature which God has created. So Each day we ought to evaluate ourselves in our mental attitude making sure our hearts are progressively moving more and more with Godly attributes. We can pray as Jesus taught us in Matthew 6, privately, asking for guidance from God. As we submit to God we can also seek out how we ought to love and be compassionate toward others in Godly character. The goal is to seek out and create the experience of God's love, forgiveness, mercy, generosity, peace, compassion, gentleness, patience, kindness, justice, and truth as often as we can. This could very well be the building of God's kingdom. Anything within us which interferes with our effort toward participation in this activity ought to be discussed (brought to light) with a spiritual adviser or mentor. Confessing our selfishness and rebellious attitude can greatly decrease its influence over us.
As we pray and ensure our thoughts are growing with God we examine ourselves for our own needs; food, rest, confession, etc. If we are overwhelmed we may need to slow down and reduce our load. Gradual and slow progressive growth can be best. Our attitude and the messages we think to ourselves about us and the world can shape our soul. We must make God and the development of our soul our top priority. Our spiritual condition affects everyone around us. God commands us into a loving attitude. If we serve God then we respond more in Godly ways.
Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual sins, thefts, false testimony, and blasphemies. WEB
(Another way of looking at this: Out of the heart proceed good thoughts, love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, peace, truth, justice, and generosity. Let's set our minds and hearts with God)
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. WEB
There is much to learn yet about our inward condition and God's goodness. Let's continue into the experience with full effort, perseverance, endurance and action. Let's move quickly to examine, confess, and repent. Let's earnestly seek out participation in Godly character. This is the path to freedom, peace, and love. Our selfishness can be broken as we practice submission to God. Let's seek out God's will instead of our own and rely on God's direction instead our the world's. Our souls and the souls of others may depend upon our choices and actions.
Psalm 6:4 Return, Yahweh. Deliver my soul, and save me for your loving kindness’ sake. WEB
Psalm 86:2 Preserve my soul, for I am godly. You, my God, save your servant who trusts in you. WEB
Ezekiel 18:27 Again, when the wicked man turns away from his wickedness that he has committed, and does that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. WEB
James 5:20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. WEB
As we grow in God's goodness, that goodness pours out in the hearts and minds of others.
1 Thessalonians 1:3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father. WEB
Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the teaching of the first principles of Christ, let us press on to perfection—not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, of faith toward God, WEB
James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him? 15 And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you tells them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled”; and yet you didn’t give them the things the body needs, what good is it? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. 18 Yes, a man will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith.
19 You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But do you want to know, vain man, that faith apart from works is dead? 21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith worked with his works, and by works faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness”;[e] and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that by works, a man is justified, and not only by faith. 25 In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works, in that she received the messengers, and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead. WEB