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LOVERS OF SELF

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He preserved his smartphone at all costs, even if it meant potentially ending lives. In May of 2023, a distracted Indian official was taking selfies on the job, when he dropped his phone into a water reservoir which held over 2 million liters of water for local residents and farms. According to the Associated Press, he first directed divers to retrieve the phone, but when they came up empty-handed, he gave orders to drain every drop of the desperately-needed water in order to reunite with his darling device. He selfishly sacrificed lifesaving resources to save a waterlogged phone that costs only a few hundred dollars to replace. The selfies on his phone must have been spectacular!

His selfish retrieval happened time zones away in another country, but his selfishness hits home. All of us live in a "selfie culture" in which we are absorbed with ourselves and obsessed with a fervent quest for happiness at any cost. We are innately and instinctively self-centered, self-seeking, and self-serving. That is why the Bible says that as sinners, we are naturally "lovers of self" (2 Tim. 3:2a). Our fallen spiritual genes compel us to put ourselves first and everyone else last (Rom. 2:8; Phil. 2:21; James 3:16).

However, such self-centeredness should be steadily shrinking in the souls of saints who possess a new nature because of the redemptive work of the One who put others before Himself on Calvary's cross. Thanks to the sanctifying work of Christ in believers, the Lord is replacing our greedy impulse to prioritize ourselves with a holy inclination to serve others and seek their best interests. That is why the Scripture teaches that selfless neighbor-serving is one of the surest evidences of having been saved by grace (1 John 3:14-18). Thus, all who know Christ should exhibit self-denying actions and a self-sacrificial attitude. As Paul the apostle commanded: "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" (Phil. 2:3-5; cf. 1 Cor. 10:24).

Ironically, selfishness always results in great loss. Being self-absorbed will destroy friendships, damage fellowship with other believers, and even dismantle your prayer life (Prov. 18:1; James 3:13-14; 4:3). On the other hand, selflessness always results in great gain. As Jesus promised, "The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Matt. 23:11-12). And after speaking to the self-centered rich young ruler, the Lord Jesus assured: "But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first" (Matt. 19:30, KJV).

You may email comments and questions to Brandon at pastor.bandanabaptist@gmail.com.

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