“Why do we have such low standards for ourselves
but high expectations for our mate?
The answer is a painful pill to swallow. We are all selfish.
"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love;
in honour preferring one another;"
Did you know that all the people around me are selfish?! Isn’t that hard to believe? When I look at the people around me (mostly my family) am I seeing how much they want things their way, how little they do compared to me, and how they went and ate most of the cookies? Am I seeing how self-centered and selfish they are? How about you?! Of course, you don’t see things that way, just me!!
If I listen to my thoughts long enough and evaluate my motives and actions, I will probably find that it isn’t the other flawed person who is selfish but ME!! Yes, me!! Just about the time I think I have come a long way in all that the Lord has been teaching me, I come to find that I am hardly nowhere at all. The Lord continues to refine my heart just so long as I remain moldable in His hands.
All too often the things we see in others that aggravate a reaction in us is what is inside of our hearts. We are less patient with others than we are with ourselves because we have a tremendous propensity for self-love but not a love that is other-centered.
My husband and I have been married for quite a few years; yet, I wouldn’t say we have a ‘model’ marriage. We are both faithful to each other and have grown in many ways, but our marriage has also had its share of ups and downs. Unfortunately, you see, my husband is flawed with imperfection and the poor man is married to a wife who also is flawed to imperfection!! I try my best to work hard at being a good wife and love reading all the books and blogs that encourage me to stay strong in all these things, but the truth of the matter is that no matter what I do, no matter how godly I desire to be, I will fail him and my family more often than my pride wants to admit.
I realized recently (as recent as a few minutes ago) as I thought about writing about selfishness, how selfish “I” was. Of course, I know better NOT to take the biggest slice of cake. I learned that growing up. When I am concerned about my husband ‘understanding’ and ‘taking consideration’ of ‘my’ feelings, I am the one being selfish. When I think I am being hurt, or whatever the situation brings…once I am thinking about my ‘rights’ and wanting my personal needs met…I am the one that is being selfish. If I am not totally taken up in meeting my husband’s needs, I am the one being selfish. We are always making a case on our behalf and trying to justify why the other person is wrong. Have you ever noticed that YOU are never the one wrong?! OK…maybe you are different than me and are totally other centered.
I have really appreciated the insights in the book, ‘The Love Dare.’ The chapters are short and easy to read. It is ideal to read with your spouse but it can be done alone and could be very effective in changing a struggling marriage. In the first paragraph in the chapter on selfishness, it talks about how much our society is taken up with “self.” We are taught by our culture to think about our appearance, feelings, and personal desires as the top priority (p. 11.) Doesn’t that just ‘take the cake?’
As married women, we ought to take an interest in our appearance so we remain attractive to our husband. You would know if you take that to an extreme. Oh, but the one that gets me is ‘feelings, and personal desires.’ Ouch!! Those negative character traits I didn’t conquer as a teen can still haunt me as an adult. The Lord is faithful and He is willing to purge those areas of my life, if I allow Him full reign.
The opposite of love is selfishness. Selfishness is bigger than a fat slice of cake. It is sly and stealthy and sometimes hard to detect. It can be hidden in our concern for our husband’s health. It can be hidden in our motives. It can be the motive behind that sweet gift we bought for our husband. We can do something really considerate in order to be noticed by him or our friends, or to get affirmation. We can be motivated to do something in order to incite a response from our husband. Our motivation can be selfish…for our own desires to be met.
When a husband puts his interests, desires, and priorities in front of his wife, that’s a sign of selfishness. When a wife constantly complains about the time and energy she spends meeting the needs of her husband, that’s a sign of selfishness. But love “does not seek its own” (I Corinthians 13:5). Loving couples – the ones who are enjoying the full purpose of marriage—are bent on taking good care of the other flawed human they get to share life with. That’s because true love looks for ways to say “yes.” (The Love Dare, p.11-12)
When I really evaluate my motives behind the thoughts and things that I say and do, I can find myself so convicted. I can ruin all the nice things I did for my husband or family the minute my thoughts even hint at how ‘someone should have been helping me’, or ‘how my husband didn’t notice all that I did for him nor appreciated me!!’ I am not motivated out of love. This will not give me that inner joy that reflects Jesus. If you feel these things in your heart, you are not alone and the Lord is ready to cleanse these things and teach you how to love your husband and also your children.
When you are motivated by love you are concerned about the welfare of others. It brings a satisfaction of a job well done because the needs of others are being met. It brings inner joy. When your priorities are; for the needs of your husband, I can’t begin to tell you how enjoyable this can be. The feelings and thoughts of selfishness are replaced with love and doing all you can for the other person.
Whatever you put your time, energy, and money into will become more important to you. It’s hard to care for something you are not investing in. Along with restraining from negative comments, buy your husband something that says, “I was thinking of you today.”
(The Love Dare, p. 14)