I am often deeply moved when I get to talk with some of our Sisters of Compassion and hear about their deep walks with the Lord, and see how they are giving up so much to be able to serve “the least of these.”
Many of these sisters serve those affected by leprosy, and I want to tell you about one team of four of them, who are serving in a leprosy colony.
These sisters clean and dress the people’s wounds, and they cut their hair and clip their nails and do so many other things to help our friends who have leprosy. One of the men they met told them he also had heart problems. Our sisters not only prayed, but they fasted, many times, for this man’s healing from his heart condition. And do you know what happened? Our Lord healed this man from his heart condition! You can read their full story .
Our Number One Enemy: Our Own Self-centeredness
These sisters are an example for many of us of living sacrificially. But we don’t often hear exhortations to live sacrificially for others’ sake. We are exhorted to first watch out for ourselves, our families, homes, health, security and rights. Then, we think, when all these things are well taken care of, perhaps we can consider others.
I strongly believe that the number one enemy that keeps this world so dark is not the devil, but our own self-centeredness.
Normal Christian life in the New Testament was always others-centered. Even when Paul was sitting in prison, he hardly talked about his own agony and suffering. In all his letters he expressed much more concern for the churches, coworkers and believers across Asia. The letter he wrote to Philemon is a wonderful example of this Christlike attitude. He poured out his heart on behalf of Onesimus, a runaway slave whom he had led to Christ. For Paul, prison seemed to be only incidental, not worthy to lament about or devote more than half a sentence to in his letter. He was serving His Lord and others, no matter where he was and regardless of his circumstances.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that just because we may live in affluent situations and our children don’t have to beg for food on the streets, God must especially favor us. We must be so careful to avoid becoming self-centered; because if we live for ourselves, God won’t be able to find any time or space in our lives in which He could move us to think about others in need and invest our lives in His ministry.
We Will Always Have the Choice: Me, or Others?
But I must tell you something. I have been walking with God and serving Him for more than 50 years, and still my greatest struggle is my own selfishness. I often do not want to pay the price.
You may find the same struggle in your own set of circumstances. The grain of wheat just doesn’t like to die! (See John 12:24.)
But I have found that following Christ is not a matter of whether we enjoy doing something, but rather a deliberate decision of consistent, constant obedience. That’s where the fruit will come from.
There is an old hymn that says, “Oh to be saved from myself, dear Lord, oh to be lost in Thee. Oh that it might be no more I, but Christ that lives in me.” How easy it is for us to sing these words, but so hard to live it.
How can you choose to walk in the way of the cross today? What about giving up some meals to fast and pray for the destitute in Syria? How about setting aside your wishlist and the unnecessary “stuff” you plan to buy, and spending that money instead to in Jesus’ name? What about giving your vacation time to go to the slums of Mexico City and be the hands and feet of Christ?
May the Lord grant us the grace to follow in His footsteps in living sacrificially.