#7 – Selfishness
In a Vineyard it is imperative that everyone do the job they are called to do, as well as help out others when they are under pressure or falling behind. This is necessary for the obvious reason – fruit! If the job doesn’t get done, there will be no quality fruit to harvest.
How like marriage. If more couples sought out fruitfulness in their relationship, instead of going with what feels good in the moment, what a difference it would make in the national statistics. We may desire the fruit, but lack the desire and work ethic it takes to get it.
In Paul Tripp’s book, What Did You Expect? he talks at length about our personal work ethic. Have you ever considered your work ethic when it comes to marriage? Are you diligent in pursuing your spouse? Are you diligent in going after areas in your own life in need of growth and change? Are you diligent to be the best worker of the Vineyard you can possibly be? The answers to these questions reveal the quality of the fruit you’re cultivating right now.
Jerry Bridges’ book, Respectable Sins – Confronting The Sins We Tolerate, devotes an entire chapter to Selfishness. He says,
“Selfishness is a difficult sin to expose because it is so easy to see in someone else but so difficult to recognize in ourselves. In addition, there are degrees of selfishness as well as degrees of subtlety in expressing it. One person’s selfishness may be crass and obvious. Such a person usually doesn’t care what others think about him. Most of us, however, do care about what others think, so our selfishness will likely be more delicate and refined.”
If you are reading this and immediately have thought to yourself, “this doesn’t apply to me.” You are either doing better than most – or you have blind spots. The best way to accurately determine your level of selfishness is to ask your spouse. When you ask be sure to tell them you honestly want to hear their perspective and that you promise not to react to what they say. The latter is by far the most important aspect of this exercise, that is if you want an honest answer.
Growth in marriage begins with humility. It takes humility to see the problems and how you contribute to them. It takes humility to do something about it. And it takes humility to seek God’s help in making these changes.
We are selfish by nature. Jerry Bridges continues,
“One has only to observe preschoolers playing together to see that. How many times does a mother say, ‘Billy share your toys with Bobby.’ As Billy and Bobby grow older, they learn that such obvious acts of selfishness are socially unacceptable, so their selfish acts become more subtle, but the problem is still there.”
A peek into our Vineyard:
Tom and I talked about this post last night, but he had to work on our taxes and needed my help. Consequently, there was no time to get to posting the blog. So this morning I planned to write what we talked about and post it up first thing. A great plan, but I overslept! Tom didn’t realize my full schedule for today until I told him. Rather than leave me to figure out how to get it all done, he’s in the kitchen putting together a meal for a friend we are serving tonight. Because of his unselfishness, he is laying his morning routine aside to help me accomplish mine. This is how unselfishness works – seeing a need and doing all you can to help the job get done. I have grown in this area, not because of my great determination to do it, but because I live with a man who models it every day. His example has motivated me to do the same.
How is your example motivating your spouse? Hopefully, it’s to love and good works.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,” – Hebrews 10:24