The Opposite of Selfishness

20111116-090127.jpgOur family recently watched a show together, and our kids noted something that someone said in an interview when asked about the source of their self-motivation. This person responded with, “First and foremost, I have to remember to be true to myself.” Interestingly, our kids picked up on that phrase and were pondering what it means. A couple of days later, I came across this popular verse in Jeremiah – one which touches on that question.

“I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. ”Jeremiah 10:23

Go to any secular bookstore and you will find an entire section dedicated to “self-help”. Our culture is fixated on the idea that happiness, wealth and success can be brought about merely by the skill and effort that we make individually. Work hard enough and be diligent, and you can be a millionaire! But the prophet Jeremiah gives us a very different picture.

His words tell us that it should be God who directs our steps, not ourselves. Our lives should be a testament that proclaims an attitude of surrender to the Lord – not a dedication to self. And for some, this may mean a life of poverty, or suffering. It did for the apostles and most of God’s prophets. Yet each of these were readily living a life of dedication to whatever God wanted. This is a hard lesson for those of us who live in a time where instant gratification and selfishness is so near at hand. Our perspective should be focused on what the Lord wants for our lives, not on what we personally desire.


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