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Summary: Where does your strength come from? What is it that gets you through the really tough times? This morning I will highlight the three sources of our strength.

How “Self” Conscious Are You?

Well, we’re on the eve of another new year. How many of you have made New Year’s resolutions in the past? Let me see a show of hands. How many are making resolutions this year? Usually these are about losing a certain number of pounds or starting an exercise program. Sometimes they may involve other disciplines, such as reading your bible each day.

How successful are you at keeping these resolutions for any length of time? For my part, they usually don’t last very long. And if the truth be known, I would guess that yours don’t either.

You might ask yourself, “Why don’t I follow through on these resolutions? Why do I invariably fail?” I believe I have the answer to these questions. The reason we fail is that we rely too much on “self” to succeed. Usually, when discipline is required, and when we must work to get results, self-motivation is usually not enough to keep us motivated to succeed.

Thinking about this problem prompted me to look more closely into the word “self”. There are many, many hyphenated words that begin with self. Some of them appear to have good connotations while others---not so good. And some---well, may be both bad and good.

Some of the apparent good ones:

Self-control, Self-denial, Self-assurance, Self-respect, Self-esteem, Self-effacement

There are plenty of others, but these few will suffice for now.

Some of the bad ones:

Self-righteousness, Self-indulgence, Self-aggrandizement, Self-consciousness,

Self-serving

Some which could be construed as both good and bad:

Self-sufficiency, Self-reliance, Self-preservation

When you look at each of these words, whether you deem them positive or negative, there is a common thread among them---they all rely on self. Webster’s primary definition of Selfish is: “Concerned chiefly or only with one’s self, without regard for the well-being of others”.

So that kind of puts a different light on that list of words, even the so-called good ones.

Is our “self”-control truly control by ourselves, or is there a stronger force at work here. I can’t help but feel that God plays a great part in our self-control, as well as the other “Selfs” –denial, respect, esteem, and the others as well.

How about self-sufficiency? I am sure there are those out there who think “I don’t need anybody. I can take care of anything that comes up. I am in charge.” To prove my point I would suggest that we take this person away from his or her current environment, place him or her in a foreign country away from all their friends, family and culture. How self-sufficient would you be in a country with a different language with no one that you know?

The point I am trying to make is that we really need to de-emphasize the "self"-ishness we all possess.

I would like to give you some examples of the existence of selfishness in our world. I would like to give you the “Toddler Property Laws”. You know what those are. They are what apply when two kids are to share their toys:

If I like it, it’s mine.

If I can take it away from you, it’s mine.

If I had it a while ago, it’s mine.

If I say it is mine, it’s mine.

If it looks like mine, it’s mine.

If I say I saw it first, it’s mine.

If you’re having fun with it, it’s mine.

If you lay it down, it’s mine.

If it is broken, it’s yours.

And to be fair, that selfishness is not limited to toddlers. In the spirit of Jeff Foxworthy of “You might be a redneck if” fame, here is a list of “You might be selfish if”

You might be selfish if:

You have a genuinely difficult time letting someone else have the remote control.

You pick up the last piece of chicken, take a bite out of it, hold it up and say, “Does anybody want this”?

You know all the words to the song “I Did it My Way”.

Your favorite picture at home is the mirror.

You’re having a conversation with a friend and say, “Enough talk about me…let’s talk about what you think of me”.

And Finally, You may be selfish if:

You’re a baby, a toddler, a preadolescent, a teenager, or an adult male or female.

Did I miss anyone?

I attribute the above list to a sermon by Sherm Nichols on Sermon Central.

Our Old-Testament scripture this morning from 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 talks about a man named Jabez. The only place he appears in the bible is in these 2 verses. Yet a man named Bruce Wilkinson wrote a 92 page book about him and this prayer, and believe it or not has sold more than 10 million copies of that book. If you look closely at Jabez’ prayer in verse 10, you will notice some pretty obvious things about it. Let me reread it again.

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