19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. To begin with today, I’d like to share a story with you:
A man was driving his car, when he saw an old lady, stranded on the side of the road. He saw that she needed help. So he stopped his old car near her Mercedes and got out. He smiled, while he was approaching her, still she was worried, as nobody had stopped for hours. Moreover, he did not look safe, as his appearance was so poor and shabby. He could see, how frightened she was, so he tried to calm her. “I‘m here to help you, don‘t worry. My name is Bryan Anderson “. The tire was flat, so he had to crawl under the car. While changing the tire, he got dirty and his hands got cut up a bit.
When the job was done, she asked how much she owed him for his help. Bryan smiled. He said: “If you really want to pay me back, then the next time you see someone who needs help, give that person the needed assistance. And think of me “.
That same evening the lady stopped by a small café. That place looked dingy. Then she saw a waitress who was nearly eight months pregnant wiping her wet hands with a towel. The waitress had a sweet friendly smile, although she had been on her feet the whole day.
The lady wondered how someone who was that tired and in that condition could be so kind and giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan. The lady finished her meal and paid with a hundred-dollar bill. The waitress went to get change and when she came back, the lady was gone. She left a note on the napkin, “You don‘t owe me anything. Somebody once helped me, just like now I‘m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, do not let this chain of love end with you “. The waitress found four more one hundred bills under the napkin.
That night the waitress came home earlier. She was thinking about the lady and the money she left. She was wondering, how the lady could know how much she and her husband needed it? Especially now, when the baby was soon to arrive. She knew that her husband worried about that, so she was glad to tell him good news. Then she kissed him and whispered; “Now everything will be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson”. It’s funny how God can bless us when we bless others. In Luke 14 Jesus teaches another wonderful lesson. Read Luke 14:1-14
“One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 2 There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.
5 Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” 6 And they had nothing to say.
7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
So here Jesus was again, under a microscope, being watched to see if He was going to do something unlawful while He ate at the house of this Pharisee. And again Jesus does a good thing by healing this man even though it was the Sabbath. He immediately gives a simple explanation why it was acceptable to do good, even on the Sabbath. But then we read that He noticed how certain individuals were picking the places of honor at the table and begins to teach them again by telling them that it would be wiser to choose a lowly place, and maybe be exalted rather than being humiliated because they chose seats that were never meant for them.
As I thought about this story I came to the conclusion that there is problem Jesus is addressing other than pride based on what I see here in the whole text. Personally I believe He is addressing those who are selfish, or self-center in the way they think and how they act.
In Galatian 5 Paul writes a list of sins that should not be seen in disciples of Christ. One of those he mentions is self-ambition, and I believe the emphases is on the “self” part, or just plain being selfish.
And why is it so bad? I believe it is because being self-centered, or selfish is a form of idolatry. Think about it; when a person only thinks about themselves, and what they should have or what they should get, they are really turning inward and idolizing themselves. Even if we always go around feeling sorry for our self we are focused inward and in a way idolizing our self. When a person is very self- centered, everything is about them, and they act as though the whole world revolves around them.
So when if I become that self-centered, I don’t think God is pleased with that.
I don’t think it pleases Him because He knows how bad that kind of thinking is for us. There is no way we can turned inward and live only for our self and truly be happy. How many of you want to be happy? I think that is the bottom line in life; we to be happy and enjoy life.
Of course there are times when we need to take care of our self and tend to some of our own needs. But what I am talking about here goes beyond that; actually where selfishness, and selfish desires control our life. And if we continue on with that desire and behavior we can literally become addicted to satisfying self or those selfish desires. And what then happens when we don’t get our way or what we desire? We get disappointed, and sad, and discouraged, sometimes bitter and sometimes angry. One thing for sure, we won’t be happy. And if that’s the case we need to do something about it.
Now what are some of the problems with being selfish?
First of all, people turn inward and maybe without realizing they actually idolize themselves in a twisted way; most all of their thoughts are focused inward and their whole world becomes about them. And like those guys who were grabbing the best seats at the dinner party they think they deserved the best of everything. It’s not right to turn inward and simply idolize our self because God calls us to do just the opposite; to be ‘live outward, not ‘inward’.
Also, people who focus on themselves cannot seem to see what they could and should be doing for other. Why? Because they are only thinking about themselves. Since I have become a Christian I’ve heard over and over that the best way to be happy is to get your mind off yourself and start being a blessing to others; and to start treating others the way I you would like to be treated by others. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone would do that.
Notice in the second part of our text here in Luke 14. Jesus tells those at the party ” invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed (or happy). Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
It’s funny how so many spend years of their life trying to make themselves happy, but never find lasting happiness. But if you truly give yourself to God, and trust Him to take care of you, and then spend a good deal of time trying to bless others, maybe encouraging, or help others with physical needs, or serving others in some special way, you will be happier in the long run.
When you help other people, God will in turn give you joy that only He can give.
Did you ever have a problem and you couldn’t seem to help yourself?
Why is it that God may enable you to help others with their problems and needs but then you can’t seem to help yourself? Simply put, maybe God doesn’t want you always helping yourself, rather He want you helping others. And as you do, you sow a seed and God then takes that seed and he brings a harvest back to you by having someone else minister to you.
So I minister to you, and God touches someone else to be used by Him to help you, and we all get a piece of joy from God in our lives in the process. So many of us have wasted too much time trying to make them self happy, and yet still may find they are miserable. If you have this problem, maybe you have been idolizing yourself without realizing it. If that’s the case, it’s time to make a change.
I believe that’s what Jesus was trying to teach at that the dinner party. He said, “11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves (especially for other’s sakes) will be exalted.”
I like Joyce Myer’s modern day story of the good Samaritan. I also added a bit to the story as well.I goes something like this:
A single mom with 3 kids was going thru a particular hard time months after her husband left her. Some in her church found out about her hardship and one said I will pray for you. Another asked, ‘How come the church isn’t helping her.’ Still another talked behind her back wondering what she had done that her husband decided to leave her.
But then when someone who was not even a member of her church found out about the hard time she was going thru. Even though she was not a wealthy woman she quietly went to the woman’s landlord and paid for a month’s rent to help her out. Then she stopped over and brought her fixings for a nice Christmas meal and gave her a gift card to Walmart so she could purchase some Christmas gifts for her children and even offered to babysit while she went shopping. While there babysitting she pick up around the house and did some cleaning and even cooked a nice meal with some food she had brought with her. She made friends with her and became a life line of support for her.
That’s what living outward looks like, and I believe that’s the kind outward behavior Jesus want to see from His disciples.
It’s time to start putting others first. It’s time to start reaching out to help those less fortunate when God opens that door. Maybe it’s time for you to start treating everyone the way you want to be treated.
He said, ‘then you will be blessed (or happy) in the here in now, you will also be repaid at the resurrection.’
(Excerpts from Joyce Myers)