Ebeneezer Scrooge, a hopelessly selfish man, experiences a dramatic turnaround in Charles Dickens's classic, A Christmas Carol. The story ends with the powerful scene of Scrooge gleefully showering children with presents, giving a long overdue raise to Bob Cratchit, and providing money for Tiny Tim's surgery.

Though probably not as selfish as Scrooge, we all sometimes become preoccupied with ourselves. Fortunately, we don't need to face three terrifying ghosts to undergo a Scrooge-like transformation. To escape selfishness, we simply need to adopt the mind-set of Philippians 2:3-4:

In humility consider others as more important than yourselves.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Please do not ask yourself, "Am I familiar with these verses?" but rather, "Am I obeying these verses? Do I consider others as more important than myself? Do I focus on their interests?"

Like Scrooge after his turnaround, we can experience the exhilarating joy of loving others. This joy comes from obeying verse three before obeying verse four. If you try to obey verse four by itself, life is anything but exhilarating.

When we look to the interests of others without first counting them as more important than ourselves, our service to them is likely to be begrudging, resentful, joyless. However, when we first count others as more important than ourselves, we want to bless them. Serving them is an honor. We are energized by God's joy and God's strength.

In contrast, many people who have no energy to love have believed the idea that love is a feeling. Often someone seeking a divorce will say hopelessly, "I just don't love my spouse anymore." God wants us to realize that love is a decision--a decision to count another person as more important than ourselves and to focus on that person's interests. Loving feelings follow after such a decision is made.

This is not a one-time decision. It must be made thousands of times. It must become our mind-set.

Most of those who read Philippians 2:3-4 put it aside without endeavoring to obey it. If you are one of the few who will take this segment of God's Word seriously enough to put it into practice, you will experience a richness of life you never before dreamed possible.

Jamie Lash                     

(assisted by Brent Wallace)






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