Last week, in the Sunday school class that I teach, we were Matthew 18. the chapter opens with Jesus' disciples discussing which of them would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The disciples get busted for this a few times in the gospels. Jesus always has to tell them that if they want to be great in the kingdom, they will have to serve each other and others and to become like little children - the least of all on the earth.
In preparing for this lesson, I came across an interesting entry in a commentary on Matthew that I have been using as I teach. The commentary is "The Chronological Life of Christ", by Mark Moore. He is one of those guys that writes like he talks, so he is easy to understand. In his commentary while writing about this passage he says,
"Egoism is natural to most people. It drives us to the front of the line, to the best seat in the house, and to the biggest piece of cake. It is seen as innocuous and natural in ourselves, but somewhat irritating in others. In fact, it is even encouraged by parents and teachers. Jesus sees beyond this facade. This egoism is the cause of arrogance, selfishness, war, greed, corporate takeovers, jealousy, rape, etc. It is even the cause of low self esteem. The problem with a low self esteem is not that a person thinks too lowly of himself, but that he thinks to much of himself. When our eyes are outward, serving others, it is impossible to be plagued with self pity or self abasement."
I think this is so right that I put it in my blog. I know from experience that this is true and I also know from watching others. When we live too much in our heads, thinking about the things we want, where we will go or what we will do or how sad it is that we are not this or that; that is precisely when we fall into patterns of egoism.
I have often thought that we become addicted to the emotions we experience and that we find ways to "enjoy" them again and again. Whether it be love, joy, happiness and contentment or self pity, self abasement, anger or malice; we find ways we can experience them again and again, even if it's on the subconscious level. I would even go so far as to say that sometimes depression is self induced. For myself, all it takes is one little thing to start a self examination that any prosecutor would envy. It can put me in a depressive tail spin that can last for days.
I have had to learn not to live so much in my head, but out there where others are, putting myself in their place or in some way helping them, and in so doing, helping me to overcome this tendency. It is a hard cycle to break. I still have bad days where my attitude totally crashes. It's usually because I have spent too much time alone.
Getting out among 'em is the answer.
Hope to see you tomorrow at church. Later my friends.