And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. If we live by the Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit. We must not become conceited, challenging or provoking one another, envying one another.
There is a reason children must be taught to share. Although there are some children who might desire to give to others without being instructed to do so, your run-of-the-mill kiddo has a different instinctual behavior. When I was a child, we received a weekly allowance of $1. Many times we would get our allowance on Friday, which was the same day we would visit the grounds of the Pennsylvania Dutch auction. Before getting there, I already knew where my dollar was going. I would go to the candy stand and buy 100 pieces of penny candy. And you better believe that my plan was to eat every one of those candies myself. No one had to convince me that I was entitled to all of that. If told to share, I would put up quite a fight. This is because our sinful nature desires that we put ourselves at the center of our universe.
Science can call it the instinct of self-preservation or the survival of the fittest, but we who have been reborn through Jesus Christ know better. Our default behavior of focusing first on ourselves or sometimes focusing only on ourselves is a result of the selfishness with which we have been born. The trade-off at the moment of salvation is relinquishing selfishness for selflessness. This is not the same as the hatred of self or not loving oneself. Selflessness doesn’t mean that we stop caring about and taking care of ourselves. Selflessness means that the center of our universe changes. We do not have to have it all. The things about which we are warned in this scripture can be let go. Conceit, provocation, and envy should not exist for us because our goal is not to elevate ourselves above others. The race we are called to win is not a competition against everyone else.
We used to be selfish and concern ourselves with how much we had and how great we were and who we could surpass. We used to spend our time and energy toiling to get to the top of any one of a number of worldly ladders. We used to hoard for ourselves treasures that could one day outlive us yet prove to be of no eternal value. Now we see that if we are to be elevated, it is for God to do that. That is no longer our concern. Our concern is to live our lives in a way that focuses on pouring out instead of taking in. Let God bless us if He wills, but we are not concerned with blessing ourselves. Our focus is blessing others. Father, thank You for raising us up out of the abyss of selfishness, and teach us daily to continue to give of ourselves as You have given of yourself.