Renewing your mind with Scripture will enable you to put off the sinful desires of the flesh. These not only include immoral desires but also selfish desires . . . the selfish desires that keep you focusing only on yourself and how you feel today.
Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38 (NIV)
Loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind is impossible apart from the working of the Holy Spirit. God, who is far above all rule and power, must always take first place. He reigns in glory, independent of you and me. We do not “make” God number one, and we do not “make” Jesus Christ “Lord.” God is already God and Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11).
What must change is our understanding of who we are! As we learn our humble position before an Almighty God, our perspective changes on how we are to live life. As we begin to comprehend that we are here to serve Him (not the other way around), Matthew 22:39 becomes reality to us:
“Love your neighbor as yourself ” (Matthew 22:39, NLT).
We have no problem loving ourselves. In fact, we are very good at it. Some think they could not possibly love themselves because they are depressed, neglecting their personal hygiene, staying in bed, or doing harm to themselves (e.g., getting drunk, cutting self), but what do those actions indicate? Who are we worrying about and dwelling on most when we’re depressed: ourselves! Even fuming inside about someone who isn’t treating us right is a sign that we love ourselves more than we love our neighbor.
This is why Jesus did not tell us to love ourselves more; he told us to love others as much as we already love ourselves! Putting Matthew 22:39 into action means serving others. God has graciously given us direction in His Word to know how to serve our fellow man. A short list follows:
- Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another. Romans 12:10 (NKJV)
- Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. Romans 14:13 (NKJV)
- Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus. Romans 15:5 (NKJV)
- I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 (NKJV)
There is little opportunity for selfish desires when you are busy serving others. This activity is not to be used as a technique to avoid dealing biblically with your issues; it is an act of obedience to God done for the purpose to bring Him glory.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.”
Notice that your heart affects everything you do. This verse makes it clear that what you think and believe controls what you do and how you act.