“Spend yourself.” What a strange concept. I wonder if these words were as incomprehensible to the original audience as they are to us today. Spend myself? Are you serious? Everything in my nature tells me to think about myself.
In fact, we don’t have to try at all, it just happens. We all start out this way, but it doesn’t end with childhood. When we wake up, who are our first thoughts about? When we walk into a crowded room and feel excited or uncomfortable, who are we thinking about? I’m nervous, I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m bored, traffic is bad, lines are long, even Christmas is about my presents, my food, my time… it’s all about me.
Undoubtedly, selfishness is an age-old problem, but it seems that as a society we are becoming more and more addicted to our convenience, entertainment, stuff, status, image… we are becoming obsessed with ourselves. Why the apparent increase in self-focus? Simple: opportunity. Without question there has never been a time in history where we have had as much opportunity to think about ourselves as we do today.
By about age three, we all know that being selfish isn’t good. But we’ve convinced ourselves that so much of our daily behavior isn’t selfish at all, it’s just part of our culture. Look at the condition of our society… the divorce rate, addiction to medications, pornography, over eating and the health related issues that causes. These are all issues that stem from people starting down a path of self-indulgence and then finding themselves trapped and wondering how to escape.
Well, our loving and kind Father in his infinite goodness has offered us a cure for this self-destructive pattern. In Isaiah 58:10, he asks us to spend ourselves, and promises that we will find light instead of darkness. I love this quote from pastor David Platt, “In a world that says, ‘Promote yourself, preserve yourself, entertain yourself’, Jesus says, ‘Slay yourself.'”
This idea does seem like we’re making a deal with God, like he’s saying “if you do something for me I’ll do something for you.” Which arguably, is not a bad deal at all. But the truth is it’s actually much more profound. Simply put, God is saying, “do what I do and become like me.” He’s inviting you down a well-worn path that he himself has journeyed many times.
He has spent himself for us, and he knows that if we will follow him into selflessness, we will find true life. Try as we may, we will NEVER find true joy or life in any acts of selfishness or self-focus. Life cannot come from that which is dead. Light cannot come from the dark.
This is such a BIG idea I’m not sure if it can be fully unpacked in a lifetime let alone one blog post. So, here we begin. We are excited to share our experiences and the stories of others who are willing to spend themselves on The Heartwork Blog. Get ready to learn about the issues of spiritual poverty (in those that have everything), and physical poverty (in those that have nothing). Be moved by the creativity and self sacrifice of students all over. We hope it will inspire you to join us on the journey.