* Repentance means turning from self-centeredness
Here John the Baptist burst onto the scene. His theme was “Turn from your sins!” The people needed to repent–make a 180-degree turn–form the kind of self-centeredness that leads to wrong actions, such as lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, taking revenge, abusing, and indulging in sexual immorality. A person who turns from sin stops rebelling and begins following God’s way of living prescribed in his Word. The first step in turning to God is to admit your sin, as John urged. Then God will receive you and help you live the way he wants. Remember that only God can get rid of sin. He doesn’t expect us to clean up our life before we come to him. (NLT)
Matthew 3:1-2 – In those days John the Baptist began preaching in the Judean wilderness. His message was, “Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
* Do you worry first about yourself or others?
Reuben returned to the pit to find Joseph, but his little brother was gone. His first response, in effect, was “What is going to happen to me?” rather than “What is going to happen to Joseph?” In a tough situation, are you usually concerned first about yourself? Consider the person most affected by the problem, and you will be more likely to find a solution for it. (NLT)
Genesis 37:29-30 – Some time later, Reuben returned to get Joseph out of the pit. When he discovered that Joseph was missing, he tore his clothes in anguish and frustration. Then he went back to his brothers and lamented, “The boy is gone! What can I do now?”
* Idol worship is self-centeredness
The tassels were to remind people not to seek after their own lustful desires, but to seek the Lord. Idol worship is self-centered, focusing on what a person can get from serving an idol. Good luck, prosperity, long life, and success in battle were expected from the gods. So were power and prestige. The worship of God is the opposite. Believers are to be selfless rather than self-centered. Instead of expecting God to serve us, we are to serve him, expecting nothing in return. We serve God for who he is, not for what we get from him. (NLT)
Numbers 15:39 – The tassels will remind you of the commands of the Lord, and that you are to obey his commands instead of following your own desires and going your own ways, as you are prone to do.
* Self-centeredness is when you’re too worried about what others think of you
Saul was more concerned about what others would think of him than he was about the status of his relationship with God. He begged Samuel to go with him to worship as a public demonstration that Samuel still supported him. If Samuel had refused, the people probably would have lost all confidence in Saul. (NLT)
1 Samuel 15:30 – Then Saul pleaded again, “I know I have sinned. But please, at least honor me before the leaders and before my people by going with me to worship the Lord your God.”
* Self-centeredness is characteristic of poor leadership
Both Jeroboam and Rehoboam did what was good for themselves, not what was good for their people. Rehoboam was harsh and did not listen to what the people said, Jerobaoam established new places of worship to keep his people from traveling to Jerusalem, Rehoboam’s capital. Both actions backfired Rehoboam’s move divided the nation, and Jeroboam’s turned the people from God. Good leaders put the best interests of the “followers” above their own. Making decisions only for yourself will backfire and cause you to lose more than if you had kept the welfare of others in mind. (NLT)
1 Kings 12:15-19 – So the king paid no attention to the people’s demands. This turn of events was the will of the Lord, for it fulfilled the Lord’s message to Jeroboam son of Nebat through the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh.
When all Israel realized that the king had rejected their request, they shouted, “Down with David and his dynasty! We have no share in Jesse’s son! Let’s go home, Israel! Look out for your own house, O David!” So the people of Israel returned home. But Rehoboam continued to rule over the Israelites who lived in the towns of Judah.
King Rehoboam sent Adoniram, who was in charge of the labor force, to restore order, but all Israel stoned him to death. When this news reached King Rehoboam, he quickly jumped into his chariot and fled to Jerusalem. The northern tribes of Israel have refused to be ruled by a descendant of David to this day.
* How self-centeredness brings a loss of hope
God is our Creator; we did not create ourselves. Many people live as though they are the creator and center of their own little world. This mind-set leads to greed, and if everything should be taken away, a loss of hope itself. But when we realize that God created us and gives us all we have, we will want to give to others as God gave to us. Then, even if all is lost, we still have God and ll he gives us. (NLT)
Psalm 100:3 – Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
* Self-centeredness, being childlike vs. childish
Jesus used a child to help his self-centered disciples get the point. We are not to be childish (like the disciples, arguing over petty issues) but childlike, with humble and sincere hearts. Are you being childlike or childish? (NLT)
Matthew 18:1-4 – About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”
Jesus called a small child over to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
* Self-centeredness contrasted with willing obedience
This last man was thinking only of himself. He hoped to play it safe and protect himself from his hard master, but he was judged for his self-centeredness. We must not make excuses to avoid doing what God calls us to do. If God truly is our Master, we must obey willingly. Our time, abilities, and money aren’t ours in the first place–we are caretakers, not owners. When we ignore, squander, or abuse what we are given, we are rebellious and deserve to be punished. (NLT)
Matthew 25:24-30 – [Jesus said] “Then the servant with the one bag of gold came and said, ‘Sir, I know you are a hard man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth and here it is.’
“But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! You think I’m a hard man, do you, harvesting crops I didn’t plant and gathering crops I didn’t cultivate? Well, you should at least have put my money into the bank so I could have some interest. Take the money from this servant and give it to the one with the ten bags of gold. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who are unfaithful, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”
* Self-centeredness is opposite of true love
“Sincere love” involves selfless giving; a self-centered person can’t truly love. God’s love and forgiveness free you to take your eyes off yourselves and to meet others’ needs. By sacrificing his life, Christ showed that he truly loves you. Now you can love others by following his example and giving of yourself sacrificially. (NLT)
1 Peter 1:22 – Now you can have sincere love for each other as brothers and sisters because you were cleansed from your sins when you accepted the truth of the Good News. So see to it that you really do love each other intensely with all your hearts.
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