During my devotional today, I came to a realization. I am selfish and horribly self-centered. My time in the Bible started out innocently enough with the passage in John 15:4-5, where Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit." I started to think about the kind of fruit I am bearing. Who am I telling about Jesus Christ and all he has done for me and all he can do for everyone else? I'm ashamed to say that this is not a common thought to me throughout my day. When I plan my schedule, I do not do it for my Father's glory, as it says in John 15:8. My day is for my glory. I am a Christian and I spend time with God, in hopes that he will pour blessings out on me. I read the bible and pray so that the choices I make through the power of the Holy Spirit will result in good consequences for me and my family. Honestly, I do not do what I do so that others might come to know God or that His glory will be revealed. I started thinking that maybe this isn't so uncommon in American Christianity, especially among people just like me.
It seems to me that the majority of what we do is based on how we feel or how we want to feel. I first noticed this last week when a good friend asked me if I wanted to bring my kids over for an impromptu playdate. These were my first thoughts. "I have so much to do since I'm going out of town tomorrow. I don't have two hours to waste on a day like this. I can't because I'll have to get the boys dressed more appropriately and I don't even want to think about trying to wrestle socks and shoes on a toddler and preschooler right now. I'm tired and this just feels like a lot of effort. And I just got to have a girls' night the other day so my cup is already full of warm fuzzies and good conversations, so I don't really NEED a playdate right now." Then I heard, "But what if she needs it?" Ouch. Suddenly many more memories flooded my mind of similar selfish moments where I only cared about myself--how I was feeling and what I wanted/needed. "No, Braden, Mommy is too tired to read you a book. You just look at the pictures. William, you'll have to pray by yourself tonight because I want to take a bath. George I'm going to bed because I don't want to watch Top Gear. Jonathan, I know you need a new diaper but I need to finish up on the computer." How many times have I let a phone call go to voicemail because I don't feel in the mood to talk and have not considered what the caller might feel like or need? How many times have I turned down invitations because I didn't want to be uncomfortable in a setting where I didn't know anyone? How many friendships how I let fade because I wasn't receiving as much joy as I wanted from them or because they took too much effort?
We want to make a difference in this life...as long as it is by our rules and doesn't make us uncomfortable. We even like to do nice things for other people, as long as the return on our investment is enough. We donate as long as we get a tax receipt. We cook a meal for the family with the new baby so when we have a baby, we will be served in return. We buy a gift or send a card so the receiver thinks well of us. We throw our spouse, child, or friend a party so they will appreciate us and love us the way we think we deserve. On a cold day, we volunteer for Habitat for Humanity or serve the homeless at a soup kitchen so we can sleep well at night on our comfy mattresses with our stomachs full and our heater turned up so high that we have to kick off our down comforters so we don't start to sweat.
So this afternoon, I'm mourning all the fruit I could have bore, the people I could have helped, relationships I could have fostered if only I had put aside my own selfish desires, emotions, laziness, needs and opened my eyes to the wants and needs of people around me. I think I'll go read Braden that book now.