to serve and not be served

I'm sure it will come as no shock to you, but we sure do live in a me-centered society. A me-centered time in history. And maybe most societies and all people from different times in history were/are me-centered, because, well, that's just what we humans tend to do. Focus on ourselves.

It makes me think of that scene in The Princess Diaries where Mia is about to accept the Genovian throne and as she is talking she realized she said "I" about fifteen times. Or how in almost all my personal opinion papers in college my professor would have to write at the top of the page in glaring red ink "Don't say I or me or my so much."

I'm guilty of thinking about myself too much. In fact, I am thinking of myself right now: how people will respond to this, what people will think of me, what I'm going to wear tomorrow, the new sneakers I want. Me, me, me.

It feels almost unstoppable how much I think of myself. I tried recently to stop and simply notice each time I thought about myself during the day and I had to stop after about fifteen minutes because it was constant (does anyone else feel this way? Or am I just really a egotistical maniac?).

Why do we need to focus on something else, someone else? Why can't we think about ourselves all the live long day?

Turn to Scripture, y'all, and it'll become pretty evident.

But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. -Joshua 22:5 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. -Romans 12:1

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. -Galatians 5:13

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. -Isaiah 26:3 

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. -Romans 8:5 

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. -Colossians 3:2

Okay, okay, you get it. We are told over and over in Scripture to love our God, to think of and serve others, to focus on things that are of the Lord not of ourselves.

Jesus, our beloved Savior, the God-Man, came and he set us an example of humility and sacrifice. He humbled himself to become flesh, to have fleshly limits. To experience what it is to age, grow tired, hunger, thirst. He humbled himself to live a simple life where he got no recognition as the son of a carpenter, a baby born in a stable. He sacrificed himself as he preached and taught, knowing he would be made fun of, mocked, persecuted, scoffed at. And he gave himself, in the most beautiful and shocking sacrifice, on the cross. Freely he gave himself, his life. And for who? The same people who made fun of him, mocked him, persecuted him, scoffed at him. For you and me.

So what do I do? What do we do to stop this endless cycle of self-consumption?

Practically, we can take every thought captive and bring it to the Lord, to the things of the Lord. We can praise him---in our mind, out loud, to our friends and family---each day, several times a day, as often as we can. We can sings God-exalting hymns. We can spend time in Scripture. This will get us off ourselves and onto God.

And we can pray, constantly because we need it, for the Holy Spirit to work in us as we work to be more like Jesus. For him to create a divine movement in our hearts for God and for others.

 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. -Mark 10:45