Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus...
Is your mind consumed by living your life or by giving of your life? As I observe those around me it seems that most of them are consumed by living life. There is nothing wrong with enjoying various aspects of living, God intends that we do enjoy the fruit of our labors and that we make time for fun and relaxation. When I find I am spending more time on fun and relaxation than serving others, I have to ask what my life is made of. What am I about?
When I first became saved I was all about the living of life. Things were very important to me, I spent my weekends at the mall, I had to be home to watch my favorite television shows. I think I had 60 pair of shoes! I was out for me, what I could get, and how I could live the best life possible.
When I began to grow in my faith I discovered a desire to serve. Sadly, that desire was still more about me and about being recognized than it was about God. After time, enough growth took place that I realized that was the wrong motive. I wish I could remember exactly when that switch was hit, and the change took place... I do remember thinking I would take the classes offered at church on theology. I wanted to be prepared for whatever God would want me to do.
I vividly remember when I realized a deep and yearning desire to give and serve. This was not a snap decision nor was it a lightweight thing. I sat on the steps alone, and prayed asking God to reveal to me if this weight I was experiencing was the call to serve, the call of ministry. It was a time of heavy contemplation and much angst.
That is when I became conscious of my life becoming about giving instead of living. I began to realize what the life of Christ was about, and it was service. The Gospels came alive in a new way as I understood that to be about serving was sacrifice. It was not about being thanked and recognized or appreciated, it was about hard work and invisibility.
Life that is Christ-centered is about giving and sacrifice. I desire to serve and yet my flesh desires to be selfish and self serving. This may be a battle that is with me for the rest of my life and one I will fight continually. Some say that you and I have given enough, that our lives are consumed by Christianity and service. They tell us it is not "normal" and we are "out of balance." In reality, the more we become like Christ, the more we are returning to our "normal" state- pre-fall.
I am excited to see my heart being transformed despite the desire of my flesh to be indulged and coddled. I have learned that the giving of self is to be as complete on our end as it was on Christ's. When you and I reach the level of giving that costs us our lives then we have done enough.