Not Seeking Self
By Robert Schaetzle
I realize more, with each new day, that Godís love manifests itself through service to others. Working over 40 years in public service, I have learned what it means to have service as a product.
Our Lordís admonition to us, "If anyone would come after me let him deny himself," brings a new dimension to what weíve come to know as sacrificial or agape love. A service provider does not consider, "Whatís in it for me?" and to serve unselfishly does not necessarily mean one is applying his ĎSpiritual Gift.í The opportunity to give of oneself for the benefit of another brings us closer to the last portion of that same verse: "and take up his cross daily and follow Me." (Luke 9:23 RSV)
"And let us not grow weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." (Galatians 6:9-10 RSV)
There are many avenues to explore and discover when it comes to "taking up our cross to follow our Savior," as well as "not growing weary in well doing." All will result in a growing and learning heart of selflessness.
When I look back 33 plus years ago, as a single dad raising his three young children who were then age 6, 4, and 17 months, Iím ever so thankful to my own parents and neighbors who came to my aid. But I, too, gave much to the care and nurturing of my children. I would come home many a tired night, after a 10-11 hour workday, and give those little ones their evening bath, then spend time reading them stories of Godís love before putting them to bed. Then I would pick up the evening dishes and do a load of diapers (before the days of the quick disposable kind). Once that was done, only then could I finally sit, put up my feet and say, "Thank You Lord for getting me through another day."
I truly praise and honor those single parents who today, sacrifice and remain steadfast to the task of selflessness to nurture and care for those most precious to them.
This is only one of many examples of "not growing weary in well doing."
My public service was not in police, fire or rescue, but consider for a moment those who gave their all on the day of the 9/11 attack, as well as those who continue to give unselfishly today. I am acquainted with doctors, nurses and other EMT personnel, who go far beyond a 9-5, eight hour work day.
Yes, there are those who, in many ways, understand what it means to deny self and take up their cross daily to serve for the benefit of others. All are worthy to be praised and should be recognized for their product of caring.
When I look at the character of those who serve unselfishly, Iím reminded also what the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:3-4, "Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."
One doesnít need to be a social worker or have a career in public service to understand the opportunity we have in being kind and unselfish. For this reason, I dedicate each day to the Lord. I want Him, to receive the honor through me. You see, when your focus is wanting others to benefit from what you do, then even a glass of cold water, provided to one in need, is providing glory to the Father. Thatís what the first and great commandment is all about!
When we grow in our faith walk to recognize how we might benefit others more than ourselves, weíre advancing to what Paul spoke of in Philippians 3:9-10. "And be found in Him not having a righteousness of my own, based on the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death."
This doesnít come overnight, but the more we deny self and take up our cross daily to follow Jesus, the stronger we become in not losing heart. Discouragement and self-centeredness will turn to, "Lord, I know your walking with me and teaching me, turning my self-centered heart into a heart of unselfish opportunity to proclaim agape love toward another."
Robert Schaetzle has been writing for over 40 years. He began by writing personal notes in his five childrenís birthday cards. He enjoys scripting personal thoughts for birthday, anniversary and condolence messages. Robert is also an inspirational poet, devotional writer and retired US Postal worker. You can write to Robert through the Letters page of this magazine.