It's the beginning of 2014. What a great time to "begin" something new. My wife and I have been talking about things we would like to accomplish over this next year. My favorite part of those discussions is the "we" part. "We" can talk about the things "we" would like to accomplish, but if "we" don't work toward those things "together", "we" won't be accomplishing what "we" have decided "we" wanted to accomplish.
Last August "we" took a weekend getaway for our 10th year wedding anniversary and it gave us some time to get perspective on what "we" have accomplished together over the past 10 years, how we have grown together and our family has grown together. It was a great time of reflecting on the past, but we also talked about the future. Now it is 2014 and "we" are again looking forward.
However, in order to have a "we" mentality, "we" need to be aware that "we" have a common enemy that wants to prevent "us" from working together. Satan is that enemy. Selfishness or Self-Centeredness are weapons of his choice that he uses for the destruction of "us".
Listen to the quotes of Timothy Keller from his book "The Meaning of Marriage", "The main barrier to the development of a servant heart in marriage is what we touched on in the first chapter-the radical self-centeredness of the sinful human heart. Self-centeredness is a havoc wreaking problem in many marriages, and it is the ever-present enemy of every marriage. It is the cancer in the center of a marriage when it begins, and it has to be dealt with."
Keller goes on to say....."In Dana Adam Shapiro's interviews of divorced couples, it is clear that this was the heart of what led to marital disintegration. Each spouses self-centeredness asserted itself (as it always will), but in response, the other spouse got more impatient, resentful, harsh, and cold. In other words, they responded to the self-centeredness of their partner with their own self-centeredness. Why? Self-centeredness by its very character makes you blind to your own while being hypersensitive, offended, and angered by that of others. The result is always a downward spiral into self-pity, anger, and despair, as the relationship gets eaten away to nothing."
So what is the answer? Keller says, "Without the help of the (Holy) Spirit, without a continual refilling of your souls tank with the glory and love of the Lord, such submission to the interests of the other is virtually impossible to accomplish for any length of time without becoming resentful. I call this "love economics." You can only afford to be generous if you actually have some money in the bank to give. In the same way, if your only source of love and meaning is your spouse, then anytime he or she fails you, it will not just cause grief, but a psychological cataclysm. If, however, you know something of the work of the Spirit in your life, you have enough love "in the bank" to be generous to your spouse even when you are not getting much affection or kindness at the moment."
Finally, Keller points out, "To have a marriage that sings requires a Spirit-created ability to serve, to take yourself out of the center, to put the needs of others ahead of your own. The Spirits work of making the gospel real to the heart weakens the self-centeredness in the soul. It is impossible to make major headway against the self-centeredness and move into a stance of service without some kind of super natural help."
What if, in 2014, you concentrated on this one thing in your marriage or if you are not married, in your relationships with your significant other, your children, your friends, and you decided to ask the Holy Spirit to help "make the gospel real" to your heart, so that it weakens the self centeredness in your soul, so that, you can achieve the joy that comes through serving others instead of using them, putting their interests first ahead of your own. Even if they do not want to join you in the process, you can still work on your own self-centeredness. You may be amazed at the end of 2014 when you look back and reflect on what God has done in you and through you.
"Whoever wants to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 16:25)