I was talking to a friend on Friday over lunch. He was relating to me how he drove over the other side of the state to make a hospital visit. It was six hours of driving for a 30 minute conversation. He talked about how he was so glad that he went and how he was able to be with this woman and her husband just before surgery, comforting them, praying with them, being with them in a time of uncertainty.
He asked a question that surprised me. "I wonder how much of that visit was selfish and how much of it was selfless?" He went on to explain that he had been thinking about if going traveling this distance, of meeting with this woman was about making him feel significant and good than it was for her. He confessed that some of that was probably in his motives somewhere.
I began to think about this. How much of what I do, think and feel is really about me and not about God and others? I thought of an experiment that I do not want to do - take a piece of paper and make three columns. One column titled "Selfless Things", the second titled "Selfless/Selfish Mix Things) the last column titled "Selfish Things". My fear if I did this experiment is that I would have a very small list in the first column (if anything), hopefully a longer list in the middle column and probably a very long list in the last column.
The fact that I came to this conclusion troubled me. I have walked with God for many years, I pursue a relationship with him, I try intentionally live a life that is Godly, I try and use my finances to help others, blah, blah, blah. That what it felt like: blah, blah, blah.
I was struck with two things during this mental exercise:
First, the whole sin thing is pervasive IN ME. I mean, it has a huge foothold on me - even though I think that I am a pretty good person. When I really understand my heart and really look at my motives, I really am not a good person. I am selfish a LOT of the time - even in the midst of acting to be selfless, some selfishness creeps in. Someone said it this way - we all draw from a polluted well. Paul said it this way in a letter that he wrote to a church in Rome - the things that I want to do I don't and the things that I don't want to do I do (see Romans 6-8).
Second, God is EXTREMELY gracious. Even when one of his children is not where He wants them to be - even when I act for myself a ton of the time, He still loves me, works with me, cares for me and wants my best. He is NOT waiting for me to sin so that He can whack me. The death of Jesus took care of all the punishment for my sin. He is though, working, moving, trying to help me, through His Spirit, to root out the sin junk in my life.
All the more reason to worship Him....