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“You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…” -Exodus 20:5. At a point in time, all of us may feel a bit jealous of other people. This might not be completely wrong as popular opinions carry it. Since we were made in His image, we have the tendency to take after God in this trait.
Nonetheless, note that in the verse stated above, God was jealous for something that was rightly His being accorded to another party. That is to say worship rightly belongs to Him. We, therefore, are supposed to be jealous, only for things that are rightly ours. But as humans, we stray sometimes and jealous after others’ own possessions as well.
All the same, God in His own wisdom still made a way to nullify the effect of our unrefined jealousy.
But to make matters worse, even when Paul was writing to the church at Philippi, in Philippians 2:12, he admonished them that, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
This statement also seems to be inherent with some self-centeredness. Why did he not ask us to help others work out theirs too?
What is a “RIGHT WAY”?
Before we proceed, let us establish one thing: the right way to do anything is the way that leads to the best results (holistically). For instance, the right way for a student to study is the method that would get him/her the best results. Also, the right way to worship God is that which will draw you closer and closer to Him.
Think of some more!
This rule cuts across board and we will apply it here as well. The right way of being selfish is surely the method that gets us the best results to selfishness. What are these results? We grow jealous and thus selfish because we want to acquire more property, possess a higher anointing, attain greater success, get higher grades and others than our colleagues.
And if it does not turn out that way, jealousy begins to germinate in our hearts for our friends. And in response, we in turn try to build a fence around our resources and try to glean more for only ourselves—which is selfishness.
It is a laudable desire to always want more in life. And in fact, it is not bad to want to get more for ourselves than other people. Several accounts in the Bible show how God could choose to make someone greater than all their contenders. And did God not also tell us to be the head and not the tail? God actually created a way for us to have all we want in all its fullness.
2 Peter 1:3 says His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. The only issue is, are we using the right means to get there?
What is THE RIGHT WAY?
The problem with many of us is we have the desire to accrue but do not know how to do so the right way. God is really smart. Knowing we would have the desire to always be on top, he hid the potential to be on top inside the readiness to stoop low. Explicitly, James 4:6 says “he resists the proud but gives grace to the humble”.
In other words, we cannot have all to ourselves by keeping all to ourselves, but by rather showing love and mercy on other people.
We cannot desire for a cob of corn, but still hold on to the single grain we have in our hands. That is a wrong approach for increase. We must have enough faith to let the grain go, build the heart to see it die in the ground, and exercise patience to see it germinate and grow into a mature plant.
The results we want by being selfish can only be gotten by being selfless! God hides increase in decrease. In other to gain more, you have to sow more. This is why the Bible was confident to say work out your own salvation—just focus on yours! Because if you really want salvation together with the rewards associated with it, you will understand the need to get more people to the Kingdom. You cannot get it all until you help them too.
God is able to conceal everything in nothing. That is why He was able to form the whole universe out of nothing. He hides the best results to selfishness in selflessness. To the person who gives more, He gives much more. To the person who decides not to be selfish with His own life, but gives his life for His sake, He gives life in abundance [Matthew 16:25].
As unwise as it would look when we see a farmer withholding his seed from being sown, is how we also look when we try to get more for ourselves by holding onto the very treasures instead of letting them go.
The most efficient way to be selfish is to be selfless. Kindness, generosity, caring for others, giving, helping others, doing good to them, and the like are just like sowing. They yield more good fruits to us than selfishness itself. This is what it takes to be selfish the right way!
If you want to become the greatest, you cannot use selfish pride, but rather be willing to be the least. If you want to be the leader, be ready to be the servant. If you want to cruise in life, be willing to sweat through hard work. If you want more rewards for yourself in God’s kingdom, be willing to help save others too. Is that not amazing?
Written by Ebenezer Agbey Quist (Author of Reformed or Deformed)
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