Selfish and Selfless

It’s all too common. The frequent sound of my husband’s phone ringing throughout his work day. Watching cars pull into our driveway to run down to his work shop just to talk for a little bit.

He’s a people person, my husband. He has a caring heart and his pure generosity is authentic. Through the years I’ve watched people gravitate to him because of it.

When your husband runs a business from your home, it’s easy to hear and see these things. I can’t put a number on how many times I’ve witnessed him completely drop his work to go and help someone with something.

Anything.

Doesn’t matter what it might be. If he’s needed, he’s there. His selflessness is a trait I recognized in him immediately after we met, and I was so drawn to it.

I quietly smile to myself now as I go about my day, knowing full well it will always be this way. Though I have to admit there have been times it has frustrated me….But you are SO busy Jess, I’ll say. He’s always quick to gently remind me, This is what we do. We love and we do for folks.…And he’s right. As he usually is. The truth is, I love it about him.

God has undeniably laid the desire upon my heart to share with others how He is teaching me to cultivate a strong marriage. And a strong marriage in turn cultivates a strong family unit. Which our society is so desperately lacking in the times we are living in.

As husbands and wives, we can’t just go through the motions of daily life and expect our relationships to grow deeper. We have to show up, roll up our sleeves, and put our spouses first by actively demonstrating our love.

Culturally we have somehow lived into a time where love is equated with warm emotional feelings. But feelings are not the essence of love. This is why love can be commanded as in Ephesians 5:25. God doesn’t command emotions. But He often commands attitudes and behaviors. Thankfully, God enables us to do what He has commanded.

Ladies, let’s commit to choosing selflessness over selfishness, and love with everything we’ve got.

I think we all have those character traits in our husbands that we admire that first drew us to them. And we should be mindful not to forget them. God created us differently and matched us with our opposite as to compliment and balance one another. Our differences exist to help support our marriages.

We all know the comfortability of marriage can bring out the worst in us at times. The truth is this can be a frustrating thought. However, when we go ALL the way back to the beginning, we can see that Satan has always intended to destroy what God created to be good; including the perfect relationship between God and man, and between Adam and Eve. This is one of the reasons why he tempted Eve to disobey God.

God designed us to be in a relationship with him AND with each other. But Satan despises God’s plans, and constantly works to keep us from relationships that help us prosper in and through him (or at least to keep them from lasting).

Unfortunately, Satan knows within each of us lies the perfect tool for accomplishing his goals: Our sinful and selfish nature.

This is why marriage can be so hard.

I think it’s easy to overlook our own selfish tendencies until we get married and fully realize the degrees of selfishness that are rooted deeply within each of us.

Paul described a similar issue: For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. He goes on to say, Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me (Romans 7:15,20).

The worst traits that we possess within us have always existed, but somehow they don’t fully surface until we are joined together in this God ordained union, and we are trying our hardest to put our spouse first.

We can fight this by remembering our husband’s incredible value. The more you treasure your husband, the more likely you will be to approach him selflessly and sacrificially. As Jesus told us, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Let’s learn to make the necessary sacrifices to treat our husbands AND our marriages as our treasure. The ultimate weapon against selfishness is sacrifice, and a happy marriage is often predicated on two people trying to out-serve each other. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it,” we read in Proverbs 3:27. For me it sometimes takes God tapping me on the noggin and reminding me to live more sacrificially.

Wherever you are right now, I want you to stop what you’re doing and take out a piece of paper. Write down the first 10 things that come to mind when you think about why you fell in love with your husband. Maybe it’s his work ethic, his tender heart, how he makes you laugh, or the manner in which he takes care of you.

For me, I always go back to Jess’ enormous heart. The sincerity in which he ALWAYS drops whatever he’s doing when someone needs him. No matter what. He’s there. He loves people. He cares. He’d give the shirt off his back and out of his closet to help ANY and everyone. He’s the most selfless person I’ve ever known next to my Mama. And gosh, do I love him for it.

The answer for ending selfishness is found in Jesus. He showed us that instead of wanting to be first, we must be willing to be last. Instead of wanting to be served, we must serve. Instead of trying to save our lives, we must lose them. In short, if we want to defeat selfishness, we must give up, give in, and give all. If we live our lives for ourselves, thinking only of our selfish desires and interests, in the end God gives us exactly what we want: ourselves.

If you’re a fan of John Piper like me, you’ll probably recognize this saying because he loves to remind us that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Thus every Christian marriage must aim at being a God-glorifying marriage. We do this by denying ourselves and following Him.

The main cause of ultimately failing in marriage is self, and the various manifestations of self. Of course, this is also the cause of trouble everywhere and in every realm. Self and selfishness are one of the greatest disrupting forces in the world. Jesus said that to follow Him we must deny self and put it to death on a daily basis (Luke 9:23). The second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:39) is that I love my neighbor as much as I do in fact love myself. Jess is my closest “neighbor.” To love him requires killing my selfishness every day.

And that’s not an easy thing. Lucky for me I have a pretty amazing example of selflessness within my four walls and right in my face each and every day.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Philippians 2:3

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