The struggles within us are often more critical than those outsides us.
How we manage these affects every aspect and relationship in our lives, and will determine the outcome. None of us are exempt. How many of us have lost family, friends, jobs, opportunities, done things that we not only regret, but have left serious scars, and all because of our careless and or selfish ways.
Without doubt, no one will always get it right; nevertheless, let us take a brief look at some areas to monitor: ATTITUDES, APPETITES, BEHAVIORS, HABBITS, and MOTIVES. ATTITUDES: Obviously our attitudes can be both good and bad. Attitude is often based on perspective, choice, and character development (or the lack thereof). Let’s consider some: impatience, intolerance, pessimistic, combative, self-centered, irresponsible, spiteful, arrogant, stubborn. Do you see how harmful these are to any and all relationships? They should never find unchallenged refuge in us.
APPETITES: Here is another that we are all familiar with. Initially food comes to mind, but there are far more serious indulgences. Not only can our appetites be addictive and self-destructive, but they are often at the expense of others, like lusts, drunkenness, drugs, gambling… not so innocent and harmless, are they? We actually need to be rescued from these. That is where Jesus comes in, but we must break our agreement with them.
BEHAVIORS: Hopefully your parents trained you well, but somehow bad behavior can slip through the cracks, like unchecked anger and violence, cruel jesting and mocking, which are always targeted at someone. The Bible says that reckless words pierce like a sword. You may have gotten away with some of these, but perhaps now it is time to sever these behaviors. How many people have we hurt?
HABITS: Again, not all habits are bad, and having good habits are critical for leading a disciplined and structured life. On the other hand some of our habits can be disturbing or even harmful to others, like forms of uncleanness? What about the petty indulgences that we feel we have the right to do no matter how they affect others.
Are your personal liberties and preferences so important that you can disregard how they affect, disturb, or hurt others? True, some people can be ridiculous and over sensitive. But how do we like it when we have to put up with the bad habits of others? People outside your home have an escape, but not your family!
MOTIVES: Here is another thief that can creep in and cause serious harm. True, we can and should have good motives at all times and in everything we do, but that is not always the case, especially when selfishness slithers in. When we place ourselves before others, seek to be a prime beneficiary, or strive to gain pre-eminence, that is where we make ourselves odious to God and others.
Wrong motives can lead to deceiving, using, and betraying others for personal gain or advantage, even against those closest to us. Our motives can bring about cruel and ruthless actions yet all the while we feel justified. In the business world the expression is (and though sometimes necessary) “Nothing personal, just business.” God weighs all the motives of our heart. We may be shocked on Judgment Day. Certainly these are an endless and daily struggle.
So how do we combat them?
1- We must care enough. If you don’t care or feel bad about how you are affecting others, will you put in the effort to change?
2- Walk in Love in all that we do as the Bible teaches us. Selfishness and inconsideration cannot live there.
3- Be teachable and correctible. Humility and pride are not companions. Pride feels it is right and is self-justifying. So you can be sure you won’t see your errors, nor be willing to change.
4- Look to Jesus for the grace of God because we not only need His help, but will not always get it right. Which also means that we must be forgiving and patient with others, since neither will they. May you ever prevail!