Joyce Meyer - Mantaining an Unselfish Attitude
This living with this aggressive, unselfish attitude and actually living like you're not and I'm not the most important thing in the universe. Alright, here's a scripture you're not gonna care for much but nonetheless it's in here, so we might as well read it. "And Jesus called to him the throng with his disciples and said to them, 'if anyone intends to come after me, let him deny himself forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interests, let him take up his cross, and follow me.'"
Now, you know, you can read that and think, "Well, this Christianity thing don't sound like too much fun to me. Totally forget about yourself, lose sight of yourself, lose sight of all your own interest, ew, yuck...", but we don't want to take this out of context. First of all, it's very dangerous to just pull one scripture out of anywhere without looking at what's around it, and Jesus was speaking to a specific situation although the general principle of this is absolutely true. It would be taking it too far to say that God didn't want you to take care of yourself, that he never wanted you to do anything for yourself, that your whole life is supposed to be just giving out, giving out, giving out, giving out and it's wrong to ever want anything for yourself. Obviously if we're gonna have desires.
The Bible says if you delight yourself in the Lord, he'll give you the desires of your heart. So there are things that we want. There's things that we need. If you're giving out all the time and nobody's ever doing anything back for you or you're not ever taking the time to do anything for yourself, you're just gonna get burnt out and it's not gonna take very long. We need to have something coming in and something going out, something coming in and something going out all the time. Even the very act of breathing shows us a very important principle. We take in... And we let out. We take in and we let out.
Now if I just do either one exclusive of the other one, I'm gonna faint. If I just or if I were just to let out and I think we've got a lot of fainting saints sitting in church pews every Sunday morning 'cause all they do is take in, take in, take in, take in. "Well, I'm gonna go to church and get my blessing. I sure hope that pastor's got a word for me today. I'll tell ya, God, if I don't get a breakthrough, I just don't think I can hang on much longer".
Now I know none of you said that today. And the best way in the world to get your problem solved is to do something for somebody else. What you make happen for somebody else, God will make happen for you. You can't reap a harvest without sowing a seed. Tell God what your need is but then get yourself somewhere where you can be a blessing to somebody else and do it on purpose. Don't have to have three prophecies, two angels and twelve confirmations. Just say, "God, we're gonna have a new plan. You are no longer gonna have to make me bless people. I am going to bless people unless you tell me not to. How about a new deal? I'm gonna bless people unless you tell me not to".
Now I will wait on God, you know, for a few minutes to make sure I got peace about doing something, but I don't have prayer meetings anymore over whether or not I'm supposed to bless somebody. I got lots of stuff to pray about but I don't need to pray about whether or not it's okay to bless somebody. And the only reason why we do that is because we want to keep our stuff. So Jesus was speaking to a specific situation here with Peter where he'd been sharing with Peter that the time was coming very close for him to die. He was gonna go to the cross, he was gonna suffer. And Peter rebuked Jesus and said, "Oh no, Lord, this must not ever happen to you". And Jesus turned and said, "Get thee behind me, satan, you're an offense and in my way. You're not caring about the will of God but only what pleases you".
Now the whole reason why Peter said that to Jesus, to be very honest, he wasn't concerned about Jesus. He figured Jesus was gonna suffer and he was his buddy, he'd suffer too. So it was a whole selfish thing and then Jesus said, "Anybody who's gonna be my disciple, who's gonna follow me, you gotta take up your cross and do it. Forget yourself, lose sight of yourself and all your own interests". So he was making a point with Peter that, "You can't be my disciple and just care more about what you want than you do the will of God". Amen? But then there's other sides to this also. And it's very important to me that I teach balance. I mean I can stand here and say, forget yourself, lose sight of yourself, all your own interests, and it sounds holy and spiritual but it's just gonna be about 2 weeks and it will wear you out. We have needs and God doesn't expect us not to have those needs met.
Don't be one of those kind of people who always says, "Oh, I can do without. Oh, I can do without. Oh, I can do without". No you can't. You might, but you know what you'll end up being? A martyr. "Well, I just do everything around here. I do all the work. I do all the serving, you know, I do all the giving. Nobody does anybody for me". No? Okay I'll go on to something else. Let's think about the other side of this. Let's look at Mark 14. See, how can i, in one message, tell you not to be selfish and give you permission to bless yourself at the same time? 'Cause that's really the amazement of the word of God. There's such fine balance in it that every need is met if we'll just follow the leadership and the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
See, that's the beauty of the new covenant. We don't have enough laws and guidelines to cover all this, but we have the Holy Spirit on the inside of us that can prompt us when we need to give and when we need to maybe take a break for a while and take a vacation, do something for ourself. Then we get energized again to come back and serve people all over again and do and do and do. We have a tendency to live in the ditch on one side or the other. We're either gonna just be totally selfish and self-centered or we get a revelation on serving and, you know, being a blessing and now we start feeling guilty if we do anything for ourself because there's all these needy people out there so we swing all the way to this side then pretty soon we're bitter and we got burnout.
And then, you know, people are serving in the church and they go overboard and so then all of a sudden now they're not ever gonna do anything in church again because you know how they are. "They just take advantage of you if you offer to do anything, they call you every time you turn around". Well, say no. Say, "I'm doing this, and I'm doing this, and I'm doing this, and I'm happy to do it but I gotta have a little life". Hhm hmm... Like I said, I've done it wrong every way you can do it wrong, and I think I'm at the best place of balance in my life that I've ever been. I work hard but I'm not killing myself anymore. I do lots of things for other people, but you know what? I've decided that you don't have to have your emergency on my one day off. You've been in emergency mode for 40 years, why would I have to fix it on my one day off?
Now on the other hand if it's a genuine thing and God prompts me, then I'll lay aside whatever I'm gonna do and go take care of it. Anybody awake out there? Audience: yes. You know what I found out? If I've been trying to help you 4 years and you're not helped, it ain't my fault. You don't want to be helped. So there's a difference in helping people and then letting the devil use some people to just suck everything out of you that you got.
Now, alright, Mark 14:3, "And while he was in Bethany, a guest in the house of Simon the leper". It's interesting who Jesus visited, wasn't it? "And he was reclining at table, a woman came in with an alabaster jar of sweet (perfume), very costly, very precious: and she broke it and poured the perfume all over his head. Now there were some there who were moved with indignation and said to themselves, to what purpose was this (perfume) wasted? For we could of sold that for more than 300 denarii a laboring man's wages for a year". That bottle of perfume was worth a year's wages. "And the money could have been given to the poor".
Now that sounds spiritual. That sounds holy. "Well, Jesus, I mean you're always teaching us all these great principles. You're the one that's teaching us to live unselfish lives to give and give and give. And so why do you seem to be happy about this woman wasting a year's wages just pouring this stuff all over you when that could have been sold and given to the poor"? There's a good message here. And Jesus goes on to say, verse 6, "But Jesus said, let her alone: why are you troubling her? She has done a good and beautiful thing to me, a praiseworthy and a noble deed. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them: but you're not always gonna have me. She has done what she could: she came beforehand to anoint my body for the burial".
Now here's what was going on here, Jesus was getting ready to go through the absolute worst agony that we could ever possibly imagine. He didn't even fully understand in his humanity what he was getting ready to go through, and God sent somebody to do something so outrageous for him that it would encourage him. She poured her love and appreciation out for what he was doing for her by giving the costly and the most expensive thing that she had. Well, people looking on said, "What a waste". But you know what Jesus was saying? "In this instance, I'm worthy of waste". And can I tell you that there are times in your life when you are worthy of waste and God will do some extravagant things for you if you'll let him? But there's no point in him doing that if you're only gonna just be the kind of person who takes in, takes in, takes in, takes in, takes in and you never let anything back out that God has done for you.
There are two seas in Palestine, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. Very interesting, are you ready? The Sea of Galilee, water flows in and water flows out. The Dead Sea only takes, water comes in, but it has no outlet. You want to be like a Dead Sea? The Bible says that a selfish person is dead even while they still live. I was a believer but I was like the walking dead. I went to church every Sunday but I was still like the walking dead. I had my bumper sticker. I read my Bible, but I was still like the walking dead because everything was about me. You think you can't be saved and be selfish? That's what's wrong. That's why our Christian witness is not saying much to the world because we've got a lot of Christians that still don't understand this. You know what? I have a big job teaching the word and I'm grateful for what God has given me to do but, you know, the more important part of my life is not this time up here, it's what I do in my private life behind closed doors. And how tragic it would be if I was preaching this and not living it. How tragic would that be? Jesus died so we could be free from ourself.
2 Corinthians 5:15, I love this scripture. This is one of my very favorite scriptures of all time. 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 15, "And he died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for him who died and was raised again for their sake". So Jesus didn't just die for us so we can go to heaven. He didn't just die for us so we could have our sins forgiven. Of course those are the more important things but he said, "I want you to enjoy your life so here's a flash, another big reason why I died for you was so you wouldn't have to live a selfish, self-centered life. I have empowered you to be a blessing even going so far as to make you a blessing to your enemies".
See, my ministry's not over when I leave this pulpit today. It's basically just getting started. I have no idea what I'm gonna run into yet today, but I've already set my mind that I don't want to miss any opportunity to be a blessing to anybody. The Bible says in Galatians 6:10, "Be mindful to be a blessing". Be mindful. Have your mind full of ways that you can be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith. I've committed myself even more so this year, and I want to encourage you today, to pay a lot more attention to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Let's look at Romans 7:6. "But now we are discharged from the law and we've terminated all intercourse with it, having died to what once restrained and held us captive. So now we serve not under obedience to the old code of written regulations, but under obedience to the promptings of the Spirit in newness of life".
So if we will be committed, and we'll just talk about this area but the promptings of the Spirit. You're getting ready to say something, you get a prompting from God, "Don't say that". "Oh, okay". I mean God tries to prompt us all day long. You know, I've got a clock over there that tells me that I'm supposed to quit in 6 minutes. Now they've put that there to prompt me to do the right thing, and God has put the Holy Spirit in us to prompt us to do the right thing. We don't have to. I don't have to give the employee at work that's been mean to me a ride. I'm not gonna lose my salvation if I don't. I don't have to but if the Holy Spirit is prompting me to, see, this is the freedom of the new covenant.
I don't have a law that says, "Do this or God's mad at you. Do this or you lose your salvation. Do this or you're not gonna go to heaven". But I now live by a higher law which if I obey it, will produce in me a newness of life, an enthusiasm, a freshness, an excitement. That nothing else can make up for, promptings. Practical example, I pray every day, "Lord, I want to be a blessing to people, help me walk in love". Okay, now it needs to be more than just a prayer. I don't know if you've figured it out or not but we like to sound holy in our prayers. "Oh God". Anyway, no time for that.
Now I'm down to 5 minutes. Went to a place of business the other day. We happen to know the couple. They provide a service and I'd gone there for something and just in conversation, they weren't hinting, just said, "You know we're both at a place where we really need to buy pretty much all new clothes. It's just been a long, long time since we've bought ourselves any clothes". And, you know, I know that they've been tight on money and we've helped them a few different times. And so I mean it just took a second. I didn't need a prayer meeting. I didn't need a confirmation. I didn't, you know, I just the prompting in my spirit, "That's something you could do. Just take them out and buy them new clothes".
Well, I waited just about 5 minutes, you know, just to sit on it and make sure that I had peace. And, you know, when we offered to do that, it made them so happy, you would have thought that you gave them a gazillion dollars. Now listen I'm not telling you that so you think I'm good. That's got nothing to do with this. I'm just trying to show you all the little things. And then we said, "And we'll take you. We'll go with you. I'll work with you". Dave will work with the guy. Well, that meant more to them, the time did, even than anything else. 'cause they're not real up on fashion, that's not really their thing. And you know I'm cool with that. I'm down with that. You want to know what to put on and what looks good, call me. Come on, are you out there today? Alright.