On toddlers, teenagers, and the terrible truth about you and me

Ok.  One last grandchild story.  Brendon has discovered his voice.  Not just his ability to speak, but his power to decide.  He got the word “no” under his belt a few months ago, but now he has discovered OPINIONS.  So, all day long when Mommy offers him a sandwich or Daddy tries to tickle him or Papa blows on his hair or Noni sings him a song, he shakes his head and chirps, “I no like it when you sing that song (or blow or tickle or offer lunch)!”

It is part of maturation and it is the beginning of self-centeredness, the early experience of seeing the world with himself at the center.  It is “the world according to Brendon.”

Toddler and teen years seem to represent some of the highest peaks in this mountain range called “me”; in reality,  I have learned to be more subtle. I am regularly discouraged to see new outcroppings of “me” emerge from my heart.  I take a friend to lunch for her birthday and later realize that I dominated the conversation.  I stop to talk with someone at church and find myself thinking about what I’m going to have for lunch.  I return a phone call and am relieved that it will be short when voice mail picks up.  I live at the center of my universe.

That’s why the exhortation in Philippians 2:4 always hits me hard.  “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Today is one of those days when I am aware again of my self-centered interests.  This command seems impossible to obey.

Enter Timothy, a living illustration of caring for the interests of others.  Paul sends him to visit the Philippian church with confidence.  “For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.” Genuine concern.  Sincere care.  Focused on someone besides himself.  Beautiful.  But it can easily add another layer of condemnation to my awareness of failure in this area.  Unless I look past the example of Timothy….

…to the Greater Example.  Jesus is the only one who perfectly considered the interests of others.  Everything that is mentioned in Phil 2:5-8: leaving heaven, becoming a servant, humbling himself, obeying, and dying was not done for himself…but for you, for me.  It was my interests he was considering when he “laid aside his crown for my soul” as an old hymn says.   That’s because he is genuinely concerned for my welfare. He knows that I am lost in my self-centeredness, utterly unable to change myself, guilty and condemned in my guiltiness.  And so he came to live an unselfish life and to die for my self-centered ways.  Now his perfect unselfishness is my record.  I am free from all debt.  Free to live gratefully for him.

And when I live for him…I find that I am living for others, just like he did.  Isn’t this good news?!  Doesn’t it feed your faith to realize that his genuine concern for our welfare included cleansing us from self-centeredness?  Now I am ready to turn from my computer and fix my husband a healthy supper!  And you can turn from your computer to attend to your children or your work or your whatever is calling for your unselfish service right now.

How has Jesus fed your faith today?

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