Archive for the ‘Selflessness’ Category

November 24th, 2015

From Selflessness to Selfishness

“But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” Acts 5:1-2 (ESV)

Selfishness can have no place in the Church, for the calling of Christ upon it demands the sacrifice of the individual for the good of the whole. How could it not? Its founder and example personified this truth. Jesus sacrificed all for the good of God the Father’s eternal plan to unite all things to Him through the sacrifice of Christ. A body of people, then, fashioned after Him and dedicated to His service certainly should expect no less call upon them.

The early church understood this. In fact, at the end of chapter 4 of the book of Acts, the early church was holding all of their possessions in common, making sure none among them had need. They were sacrificing their material goods for the sake of the whole. One man in particular, Joseph, sold a field and brought all the money he had earned to the apostles to use for ministry. His sacrifice was immense and it was noticed.

This notoriety interested a couple named Ananias and Sapphira. They saw the recognition that accompanied Joseph’s selfless act and desired such attention for themselves. So, they sold, like Joseph, a piece of property, but unlike Joseph they kept back part of the proceeds for themselves while claiming to have given them all. You see, their motivation was their exaltation, while Joseph’s was the exaltation of Christ. Selfishness has no place in the body of Christ and Ananias and Sapphira were dramatically removed from the fellowship.

Why do you serve the Lord? If you were never recognized for the work you do for Him, would you be ok with that? Do you need the recognition as justification for your service or is the advancement of the Kingdom enough? Search your heart this morning, child of God, knowing that selfishness has no place in the Church. To be a true imitator of Christ we must commit ourselves to selflessness, for only in that can we aid the mission of the Church.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, November 24th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Acts, Selfishness, Selflessness.
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November 18th, 2014

Loving Others as Yourself

“‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 (ESV)

We are by nature self-absorbed, self-centered, and self-focused. When anything happens around us our first question is: How will this affect me? In many ways, we act as though the earth really does rotate around us. The reality of our fallen nature pops up from time to time like a ground hog trying to catch a glimpse of daylight.

Jesus acknowledges the presence of our self-love. We truly love ourselves. As one of my colleagues would often say, “Sometimes you just have to be good to yourself!” We have no problem being good to ourselves do we? We value comfort. We value pleasure. We value looking good and feeling good and sleeping good.

As we begin viewing others from God’s perspective, we will begin to value others the way God values them. The resulting choice will be to love others as we love ourselves. In other words, we will begin to treat others the way we want to be treated. We will love others with the same kind of love that we desire to receive.

James identifies that we are doing right when we love others as we love ourselves. Longing to do right is not enough. Putting our faith in action by loving others brings honor to God (James 2:17).

Do you love others as much as you love yourself? Ouch! That’s a painful question.

Drawing Near,

Stephen Trammell
Lead Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Christ, Love, Selflessness.
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July 9th, 2014

Selfless Involvement

“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’” Luke 10:33-35 (ESV)

Has your day ever been interrupted by an unfortunate event? How did you respond? The Good Samaritan responded to the tragedy by getting involved in the resolution. He demonstrated compassion in action by seeking to meet the needs of the one who had been violated and wounded. While others kept their distance and walked on by, the Good Samaritan walked directly to the man in desperate need to extend a helping hand.

Life is full of opportunities to ignore or meet needs. You can easily become apathetic and slip into a numb state of existence whereby the needs of others no longer tug at your heart strings. What if God wants you to get involved? What if God wants to use you to make an eternal difference in the life of someone in need? How will you respond?

  • “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.” Mark 6:34 (ESV)

Jesus is our model of compassion. Choose to be like Jesus!

Drawing Near,

Stephen Trammell
Lead Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Compassion, Initiative, Selflessness.
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July 1st, 2014

Loving Others

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)

The “Love Chapter” has been read most often in weddings. Marriage is a portrait of love in that one spouse is to seek to meet the needs of the other spouse. Love is putting others first. Love flows from God because God is love (I John 4:8). As the Source of love, God demonstrated His love to us by allowing Christ to die in our place (Rom. 5:8). As you read the Bible, you will see a common thread of God’s love in action to restore fallen humanity. Love takes the initiative just as God took the initiative to bring us into a right relationship with Himself.

Have you experienced God’s unconditional love personally? God’s love for you is not proportionate to your performance or productivity. God’s love for you is based on His nature and character. God loves you with a perfect love that humanity cannot match. Allow God’s love in you to inspire you to love others unconditionally.

Is there anyone you find difficult to love? Choose to love that person not based on what they can do for you or based on what they have done for you or to you. Choose to love that person based on what God has done for you. Love is a choice. God chose to love you long before you chose to love Him. Now seek to love those Christ died for.

Drawing Near,

Stephen Trammell
Lead Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Initiative, Love, Selflessness.
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June 16th, 2014

Exposing Selfishness

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? James 4:1 (ESV)

Have you ever been in a fight? Have you ever quarreled with someone and sought to get your way at any cost? Can you imagine that kind of behavior among believers? James identifies the reality of infighting among the believers who have been dispersed as a result of persecution. Now they are persecuting each other with improper behavior. It can happen to good people who are seeking to follow God.

Even after we profess Christ as Lord of our lives, we continue to battle the sin nature. The old patterns that God delivered us from seek to pop up from time to time. We have three enemies that we combat: the devil, the world, and the flesh. If the devil eased up on us and the tugs of the world lessened their appeal, we would still have to combat the cravings of our flesh.

James points to the culprit of fights and quarrels, namely, our desires that battle from within. Selfish desires and behavior steeped in pride come from within. The outward expression of our inward desires can bring harm to the Body of Christ and contaminate our witness. Attacking other believers through our words and our deeds is an indicator of selfishness and pride.

What’s the opposite of pride? Humility! God gave us a portrait of humility by allowing Jesus to pay full price for the sin debt of the world. If God was willing to do that for us, what should we be willing to do for Him? Let’s start with treating others the way God has treated us.

Drawing Near,

Stephen Trammell
Lead Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, June 16th, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Humility, Pride, Selflessness.
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June 2nd, 2014

Motivated to Serve

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:24-25 (ESV)

What motivates you to serve God? What motivates you to serve to benefit others? It’s not our natural proclivity to serve. Serving is the result of an abiding relationship with Jesus. Selfishness flows like a river in the human race. Selflessness flows from the life of Christ through a believer fully yielded to Christ.

  • “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Heb. 9:14 (ESV)

Jesus took the initiative to pay the penalty for our sins so that we could die to sin and live for righteousness. As sheep, we follow our Shepherd’s lead. Jesus was willing to serve to benefit us immediately and eternally. We have been released from the law that once bound us in order to serve in the way of the Spirit. We have been empowered to live the Christ-centered life by the Indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus has provided the way for us to serve the living God!

What is keeping you from serving God with full surrender and absolute devotion? What is keeping you from serving to benefit others in the power of the Holy Spirit?

Drawing Near,

Stephen Trammell
Lead Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, June 2nd, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Atonement, Jesus, Selflessness.
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May 30th, 2014

Wisdom From Heaven

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17 (ESV)

Doing life God’s way involves obtaining and employing heavenly wisdom. What does that kind of wisdom look like? James has already explained the components of earthly wisdom in the previous three verses. We learned that earthly wisdom is characterized by selfishness while heavenly wisdom is characterized by selflessness. Selfishness is an expression of earthly wisdom. Selflessness is an expression of heavenly wisdom. Jesus, of course, is our model to follow.

  • Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.Phil. 2:3-4 (ESV)
  • Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Phil. 2:5-8 (ESV)

Heavenly wisdom becomes a practical expression in your daily living. As you do life God’s way, you will live a life of moral purity. You will be peace-loving, considerate of others, and submissive to God’s agenda. Heavenly wisdom will be evidenced through your lifestyle of mercy and good fruit, being impartial and sincere. What kind of wisdom are you exhibiting through your conversation and your conduct? Will others be drawn to Christ or repelled from Christ?

Drawing Near,

Stephen Trammell
Lead Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, May 30th, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Selflessness, Stability, Wisdom.
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November 12th, 2013

Sensitivity

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” 1 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV)

Have you ever been offended by someone who was acting selfishly? A self-centered person can quickly become toxic and infect those in their sphere of influence. It is possible to call yourself a Christian and slip into selfish ways that erode relationships and diminish your testimony.

I remember the story one of my professors shared during my seminary days about his weekly routine of washing his car in the driveway of his seminary home every Sunday. He told about the tension his weekly ritual created with a fellow professor who also lived on the campus. The other professor was deeply offended by my professors insistence on washing his own car on a Sunday. Obviously he held a deep conviction related to a believer not washing his car on a Sunday. My professor took the high road and graciously apologized for the offense and committed to stop washing his vehicle on Sundays. Even though my professor personally felt that there was absolutely nothing ungodly about washing his car on a Sunday, since it offended his brother in Christ, he chose not to do it again.

  • “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” Rom. 14:13 (NIV)

Is there any activity you engage in that has become a stumbling block to a fellow believer? Perhaps the activity does not violate your personal convictions based on God’s Word, but you have come to realize that your activity has become a stumbling block to someone else. What is the godly response? What would benefit the other person? This may be one of the most powerful opportunities for you to display the love of Christ.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Lead Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, November 12th, 2013 at 1:00 am
Category Humility, Selflessness, Sensitivity.
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October 6th, 2013

Mission Statement

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

Have you ever written a mission statement for your own life? Let me share a few personal mission statements I have seen. I exist to love God and to love others. I exist to know Jesus and to make Jesus known. I exist to leave the world a better place than I found it. I exist to take as many people with me to heaven as possible.

God re-created you in Christ to reorient your life from selfish ambition to selfless ambition. Instead of living to benefit yourself, God empowers you to live to benefit others. When pride seeps in, your ability to serve others erodes. In humility, you consider others better than yourself. In humility, you esteem others above yourself.

Are you looking to the interests of others? Have you considered how you can invest in others? God has blessed you in Christ to be a blessing to others. You have been planted right where you are by God so that you can bloom for His glory and for the benefit of those in your sphere of influence. In humility, serve them. In humility, love them the way Jesus loves you.

What if you adopted the following mission statement? I exist to bring glory to God by living to benefit others. How would that impact your relationships? How would that affect your attitude about waking up each day? You would be living on purpose and on mission with God. You would begin to see your home, your neighborhood, your campus, your place of employment, and your sphere of influence as your mission field.

Start today! Bring glory to God by living to benefit others!

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Lead Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, October 6th, 2013 at 1:00 am
Category Humility, Mission Statement, Selflessness.
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June 9th, 2013

Spiritual Growth & Serving

“Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder.” Zephaniah 3:9 (NIV)

Serving produces spiritual growth. As you serve God by serving others you develop spiritual muscles. Spiritual growth produces serving and serving produces spiritual growth. God does not want you to stay where you are in your spiritual development. God wants you to grow spiritually and to demonstrate that spiritual growth through serving.

Serving involves placing the needs of others before your own. To be other-centered is to follow the example of Jesus and to give evidence of spiritual growth.”Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4 NIV). Serving is a process of allowing the life of Christ to be realized through your life to others.

Selfishness is an indication of spiritual immaturity. Selflessness is an indication of spiritual maturity. What will you model today, selfishness or selflessness? Will you diligently serve others today or persistently seek to be served by others?

Spend a few moments right now expressing your availability to God for His use. Allow Him to have His way in your life today. Even when you don’t feel like serving others, faith it until you feel it. As you serve others, the love of Christ will flow through you like a river.

Pursuing God,

Stephen Trammell
Lead Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, June 9th, 2013 at 1:00 am
Category Selflessness, Serving, Spiritual Growth.
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