While suffering can enter a person’s life in numerous ways, one sure fire way to suffer from within is to live a selfish lifestyle. The more self-centered you are, the more vulnerable are you to suffering. That may sound counterintuitive when comes to self-preservation or “looking out for number one;” but, it’s an inescapable spiritual principle. Look at it from a large scale perspective. Jesus said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul (Matthew 16:25-26)?”
Selfish people don’t serve well. For the most part, their service and gifts usually have strings attached, even if it’s simply for recognition. When they serve for the thank you, promotion or to be one-up on someone, and none of these come to fruition, they become frustrated or angry. Moreover, they may experience feelings of rejection, bitterness and even depression in some cases. All of these are types of suffering.
Selfishness closes the door to blessing. We know the principle of sowing and reaping (see 2 Corinthians 9:1-15; Galatians 6:7-10). When you withhold a blessing, blessings are withheld from you. Proverbs 21:13 Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard. Is feeling empty and void of purpose a form of suffering? When people fail love and care for others, their life is empty, and that is not the abundant life Jesus desires them to have.
Deep down, selfish people tend to be lonely. Why? Who wants to be around them? If they never take interest in others, others will never take interest in them. It is that simple. Closed hearts don’t easily find open ones. How can some expect others to have an open heart for them, when their hearts are sealed tighter than a drum? No one is designed to live their life completely alone. Those who say they don’t need others are self-deceived. Scientifically, it’s been shown extended isolation leads to lunacy. Part of our design is to have fellowship with God. Those who reject communion with Him, suffer the most.
How many Christians live a life of contradiction? They say they believe the Bible, but what comes out their mouth completely contradicts that statement. And of course, their attitude and actions don’t correspond with it either. Perhaps, part of this comes from not really knowing what the Word says, which means some inconsistencies are the result of ignorance. On the other hand, some of them may not be all in. They haven’t fully embraced what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Everyone has hypocritical moments -at least from a surface view. A flip side to all this is they may have a greater need of a complete mind renovation than a need for a full heart conversion. Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Eliminate the contradictions, and life takes on a whole new meaning. Here’s just a small sample of opposing statements and actions. The Bible clearly says Jesus heals. Some will even quote, “By Whose stripe ye were healed” (1 Peter 2:24), or “They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18), and so on. Yet, the same individuals still own “their sickness,” which completely opposes the Word: “My allergies”; “my arthritis”; “my _”, you fill in the blank. What would happen if they simply believed the Word of God and spoke it over themselves? After all, Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof (Proverbs 18:21). Of course, they may want to hang on to it for whatever reason. Who knows, maybe they feel it’s the only way they can get attention, or excuse themselves from doing things they don’t want to do.
What’s a little interesting is when a believer says, “I will treat others well as long as they treat me well.” Some go a step farther and talk about retaliation should someone mistreat them. How does that square with, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21 [see also Matthew 5:44-45])? That attitude ought to reveal the love of God and win people over to Christ!
Why do people belittle themselves? Why do they call themselves unworthy? How does that agree with Scripture? Study this out for yourself. How does God see you? What’s more, whose opinion do you value the most, peoples’ or God’s? If Jesus is worthy, if you are in Him and He lives in you, doesn’t the make you worthy? Shuffling around with a slouch, head down and saying you’re not worthy does not exactly glorify God. Contradicting Him never did!
Okay, one more: “I can’t do that!” Look, you can do what God says you can do. Now if you don’t want to do whatever “that” might be, that is another issue.
It’s amusing when people show up for work on time, they want a pat on the back. When they do what is expected, they want a raise and Meritorious Service Award for their efforts. If they work an entire week without calling in “sick,” they feel they deserve more for than that which they agreed to work in the first place. There was a time when people were grateful for what they had, and were glad to show up on time, do their jobs with excellence without expecting anything in return other than their wages due them. Yep, they actually earned their wages, even when the boss wasn’t around. We do of course see this attitude in many of our military personnel who will say, “I’m just doing my duty.” How many war heroes never consider themselves heroes? They too reply, “I was just doing my duty.” Most of them never talk about what they do or have done for God and country. They humbly live their lives. What they did wasn’t for reward, fame or glory. Look, if someone really wants a pat on the back, shouldn’t he or she go above and beyond the call of duty?
As disciples of Jesus Christ, shouldn’t our motivation be love and glory to God? And yet, how many do things for recognition? Question: do you serve for love or reward? It’s an important question. Think hard on it. Jesus said something very interesting in relation to service:
“Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done’” (Luke 17:7-10).
Jesus freely laid down His life for humanity, knowing full well many would reject Him and the amazing Gift of Righteousness He was extending to all who would receive it. Can you simply serve out of love? Are you serving for a larger mansion, or perhaps another proverbial jewel in your crown? By the way, the 24 elders in Revelation four cast their crowns before the throne and worship Him Who sits on it (see Revelation 4:5-11).
Who are the true creatives? The answer might surprise you. Because of the ways society and cultures divide people groups from others, numerous individuals fail to see themselves as who they really are. We love our categories -our boxes, so we can fit in somewhere. Have that sense of belonging and exclusivity. We want to define our identity. So, who are the true creatives? Are they the writers, poets, singers, musicians and artists? Yes; however, they are only segments of the creatives as a whole.
We are created in the image of God. How did He first reveal Himself in the Bible? As our Creator. Would you agree then, as The Creator of all things, He is creative? What does that make you? Creative! So, the short answer to our question is everyone on the entire planet is creative. Unfortunately, many realms of creativity are not recognized as creative. If you found a solution to a problem, you’re creative. You created a solution. Would you agree inventors are creative? Of course you would. What about a teacher, an accountant, a fireman, a laborer, a parent and so on? They are all creative. Each one requires creativity of sorts to function in their roles. To be human is to be creative!
Here’s where a couple problems lie with the concept of who are considered creatives. First, is the division based upon the world system which has a three core elements of its foundation: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (see 1 John 2:16). That pride thing causes people to desire superiority over others. “I’m this; they aren’t!” And it cuts both ways. One wants to be superior over another, while one wants to be superior under the other. In the latter, it’s like the proverbial, taking pride in one’s humility. Are there divisions mentioned in the Bible? Sure. Consider these examples. We find in the days of David there were divisions for praise and worship. There were singers and musicians skilled in leading others. However, everyone is called to sing a new song unto the Lord. Everyone! An individual may physically sing out of tune; but, when it’s of a pure heart unto the Lord, it’s in perfect pitch. After all, we were created to worship in Spirit and in truth. Obviously, not everyone are apostles, but yet everyone should be apostolic. That simply means we make the environment in which we live as much like heaven as possible. Are all pastors who care for the flock? No, but we are to care for others. Not everyone is in the office of a teacher, and yet we’re all to be apt to teach. The offices help equip the Body of Christ to function in certain ways (see Ephesians 4:11-13).
The misuse of groupings, which in essence equates to divisions, has led to individuals not using their creativity. Everyone is gifted. It’s a question of recognizing the gift and using it. Some are blessed in using their gifts without thinking about what their gifts are labeled. Regrettably, because some don’t consider themselves as gifted, they fail to recognize and use theirs. “Oh, I could never do that.” Unfortunately, society tends to celebrate certain people, while overlooking the “mundane” contributions of others. And frankly, our gifts were never meant to stand alone nor elevate some above others. They were designed to be interdependent, while edifying one another. God is a respecter of none, but He does hold us accountable as stewards of what He’s given us. When culture places someone on a pedestal, it diminishes the rest. We’re designed to worship, and if we don’t worship God Who alone is worthy, we will worship someone or something else. That’s part of the reason some are elevated above what they should be. To be clear, we are to give honor to whom honor is due. It’s a beautiful thing to celebrate another along with his or her accomplishments; but, God alone is ever to be worshipped!
So, go ahead and create in the way you were designed. Be the creative you!