Stepping Out of the Me Zone

“Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.  Everyone should look out not [only] for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” -Philippians 2:3-4 (HCSB)

I wonder how many people, wandering through a bookstore, have picked up Pastor Rick Warren’s classic best-seller, “The Purpose Driven Life,” opened it up to the first page, read the first sentence of chapter one and quickly decided, “This book is definitely not for me!”  Of course the first sentence reads, “It’s not about you.”

Now before I begin venting my frustration regarding all of those mean old self-centered people (and that is precisely the purpose of this post), may I make the immediate disclaimer that I myself have spent far too many of my own 56 years caught up in my own selfish agenda and affairs?  It may be glaringly apparent that I still struggle with some lack of humility, if only evidenced by the fact that I am writing this blog, thinking that someone out there may actually care what I have to say.  The truth is that each of us, to some lesser or greater degree, finds it difficult to see outside of the “Me Zone.”

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and more crotchety, or maybe it’s from personal experience, but it sure seems to me that our present society and the generation in which we live is becoming more enthralled with self with each passing day.  Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:

Someone decides to find a new church and when they are asked for their reason they say, “Well, I just wasn’t getting fed.  I need to go somewhere I can get my spiritual needs met better.  Besides, I was sick last week and that pastor didn’t even bother to call.”

A marriage ends up in divorce court and the husband (or wife) is overheard saying, “I just got tired of trying to make it work.  I just wasn’t happy anymore and I deserve to be happy don’t I?”

A co-worker’s family has a critical emergency, and when approached to contribute a few bucks to a collection, the response comes, “Well things were kind of tight at my house last year too, and I didn’t see anybody taking up a collection for me when I was behind on my mortgage.”

Some years back I was going through a particularly tough period of my life (just one of a number of such times), and being very discouraged I went to seek the counsel (more likely to whine to) a very wise man.  His response wasn’t quite what I might have been looking for at the time, because he said, “Son, whenever you think things are the worst they can be and you’re really feeling bad about your own situation, you don’t have to take a walk very far down your own street to discover that someone is struggling with something that will make your problem seem like nothing at all.  Take time to help that person and it’s funny how fast you’ll forget about your own worries.”  The man only had an eighth grade education, but his wisdom turned out to be true, and I actually witnessed him living out the truth of his words in his own life.  The man was my father, and if I were to be honest about it, I probably didn’t think much of his advice at the time, because I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) look outside of the “Eddie Zone.”

An innocent man hung on a cross, beaten beyond recognition, naked in the searing middle eastern Sun, covered with blood and the spittle of His mockers and accusers, nails driven into the bone and muscle of His wrists and feet.  He was there to pay the penalty for people who did not deserve such sacrifice.  I’m so glad that He did not say, “Nobody forced Adam to eat that fruit, and nobody is forcing those who followed him to continue to sin.  Why should I pay this price for them?  They got themselves into this, let them get themselves out of it.”

I read Philippians 2:1-11 today and you know what it says?  God stepped out of the “Me Zone” and because He did you know who gets to benefit eternally from it?  ME….and YOU!  “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5 HCSB)


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