Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Self-Interest vs. Self-Sacrifice: A Choice

With difficulty I read my calendar passages* today, Matthew 27 & Mark 15. It is always hard for me to take in the crucifixion accounts without being deeply moved, and today was no exception. This exchange at the scene of the execution stood out:
So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself." (Mark 15:31)

How true, though spoken in ridicule and with grave disrespect, that "He saved others; he cannot save himself." Truly, in order to save others, he could not save himself. He had to choose; he couldn't have it both ways. He could have saved himself - if only he'd given up the "others," all the lost causes lined up throughout history (including you and me). What a call to make, to deny even his right to life itself - and to give it up for the unworthy creatures before him, who were oblivious at best.

By comparison, what little is asked of me in order to follow in his footsteps and take part in who he is! I'm not asked to make unreasonable sacrifices like what Jesus did. No! "His burden is light." When I am called to choose between self-interest and what's best for another person today, what will I choose? Will I consciously weight the balance in the favor of the other guy, even if the other person is totally oblivious, at best?

Unlike the actions of my Savior, any selfless action you or I might perform is not wasted on the unworthy; it is given as an offering to One who is aware (not oblivious), who sees us for who we are, who loves us unequivocally, and whose very spirit is present to strengthen our resolve.

It is my prayer that the choice Jesus made on the cross will stay fresh in my mind and yours today; that we will be strengthened in the Spirit to walk with a renewed perspective on what is a reasonable level of self-sacrifice, and what is a justifiable level of self-interest. Today may we take joy in living in light of HIS choice.

*Calendar Passage - if you are not on a daily reading plan, go to http://www.backtothebible.org/ and pick one out! There are five calendar plans to choose from under the Devotions link in the left-hand column. The bottom choice, Reading Guides, will bring up your options.