“We say ‘no’ to self so we can say ‘yes’ to our brothers and sisters in need”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – February 27, 2021
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:9-10 (NRSV)
When your thoughts wander, where do they go? Our minds are a bit like the cars we drive. Most of the time, we choose where the vehicle goes, actively directing and guiding it in a specific direction. However, if you were to take your hands off the wheel, the car would reveal to you where it naturally wants to go! Letting your mind wander, in a sense, reveals where your mind wants to go.
Chances are high that your mind naturally wanders in directions of self-care, self-preservation, and self-fulfillment. When we’re young, we may daydream about fame and glory, or finding love and someone with whom we can share life. As we age, our concerns mature and age with us, asking questions of college tuition for children, or retirement funds for our final years of life. However, each of us must realize, whatever the specifics may be, our desires can develop and shift over time yet remain just as self-absorbed as they were when we were young!
Self-absorption is a sickness that afflicts us all. We have a natural impulse towards self. In a sense, it is animalistic and instinctual, choosing ways of life that secure our own preservation and security. If we aren’t careful, we will live like animals rather than creatures made in the image of God.
In order to embody the “genuine love” that St. Paul speaks of in Romans 12, we must create room in our lives for others. We say ‘no’ to self so we can say ‘yes’ to our brothers and sisters in need. If your cup is filled to overflowing with “self,” it will be impossible to add anything to it.
The habits and disciplines we practice as Christians, such as giving money or fasting, are simple ways to empty yourself of this ever-present impulse towards self. They teach us to live with healthy margin, to embrace a cup that is not filled to overflowing. Why? So that thirst can be satisfied, not with more and more self-love, but with the refreshment that comes as we “outdo one another” in love and service towards others.
Father, give us the gift of genuine love, that we may turn from ourselves and turn towards a world in need, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Is your cup filled to overflowing with self-interest? How can you take on a traditional discipline, such as prayer, giving, or fasting, as a way to create room in your life for others?
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