Selfishness – The Absence of Gratitude, Matthew 11:25-27

Jesus thanked God because of his Lordship, v25a

Jesus thanked God because of his wisdom, v25b

Jesus thanked God because of his grace, v26

Jesus thanked God because of his trust, v27

If there is a reason to maintain and improve your capacity to remember things, it is gratitude. Forgetting God’s benefits results in selfishness. The Psalmist declares that we should “forget not all his benefits” (103:2) It is from factual experience that we feel thankfulness by remembering who it is that is gracious to us, their grace motivates us to say and show grace to them and others. Grace is very contagious. Sharing thankfulness expels selfishness!

Consider how detestable ingratitude really is, as Paul describes ungodly people in Romans 1:21-22, “…they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened…”. One of the many sins listed as characteristic of this vicious pagan world, was ingratitude. Paul says people will be “unthankful” in 2Tim. 3:1-5 along with more obvious sins. God reckons ingratitude so detestable as to catalog it with the most tragic of transgressions. Shakespeare wrote, “blow, blow thou winter wind, thou are not so unkind as man’s ingratitude”. So even though the Apostle Paul was in prison chains, he could still write, “giving thanks for all things” (Eph. 5:20)

The cure for ingratitude is to count our blessings and the greatest blessing is Jesus. Thanks saying is not necessarily thanks giving, but thanks living is. In response to the Psalmist’s question, “what will I give to the Lord for all his benefits toward me? (Psa. 116:12) Let us be determined that we will give to God our love, our time, our talents, our money, yes even our lives. Afterall it was He who gave us his Son’s life on a cross. If we find it hard to count our blessings, let us start with the spiritual ones. The forgiveness of all our sins, the presence of his Spirit, a name in the Book of Life, a residence in heaven, a peace that passes understanding, a crown of life, a loyal friend in Jesus and His love that never fails. If we do this, it will surprise you what the Lord has done and make you even more grateful than what you were before you started counting your blessings. Now start on your physical blessings and remember that people who are not humbly grateful are bound to become grumbly hateful. Read & memorize Philippians 2:14-15. If you choose to leave your heart empty of gratitude, the void in your heart will just be selfishness. Read Matthew 6:22-23.

Lust, The Absence of Devotion, Matthew 5:28-30

Dwight Eisenhower once said, “War is a terrible thing. But if you’re going to get into it, you’ve got to get into it all the way.” That principle is true in the war against physical enemies and also emotional enemies; lust. We won’t win by being halfway into it. But if we get into the battle all the way—God’s way, using His strategy—we can win!

Origen of Alexandria lived in the late second century and was famous for his literature in Christian theology. His devotion to Christ was so intense, he had himself castrated to defeat his battle with lust and enable himself to teach women the gospel. His zeal is admirable, but it is not what Christ wanted him to do with his instructions in Mt. 5:28-29. Afterall it is not the human eye that causes a person to commit lust, the real reason we lust is because we have not prepared our mind to be committed to true holiness and we have not prepared our heart to be committed to true love. Without this preparation, we are met with temptation and fall deep into the pit of lust. The first lesson we must learn, if we are to get prepared, is that lust is a complete fake, a poor substitution for true love. Lust creates a buzz that is a short-lived tune in the face of an orchestral masterpiece with movements that make love eternal. Jesus used the picture of gouging out our eye, to enforce the necessity of each person making a physical effort in defeating lust in our life. As Paul taught Timothy in 2Tm. 2:22. “Flee” youthful lusts. He didn’t say walk away, avoid or ignore, he said RUN AWAY from them! Kenny Rogers sang a popular song with the wise words, “you got to know when to hold’em and know when to fold’em”. There are some battles we can win, and some we will always lose. Most men and some women find the battle against lust is always something we must run from, if we try to face it and fight with our own wit and strength, it will overcome us. Most human beings are designed with this appetite for sexual satisfaction that is insatiable. It may seem unfair that God made us this way, but God is calling us to holiness not impurity, He wants us to desire the real thing, not a fake substitute.

Job relates commitment or devotion to a part of his body that other prophets seem to ignore. I love the way the N.E.T. translates Job 31:1, “…how then could I entertain thoughts against a virgin?” The idea of entertaining thoughts is impossible for Job, who has made a covenant with his eyes. A covenant is a much stronger word than promise. His eyes and her body should be kept sacred in Job’s heart. A covenant is a deal Job has made with God. Here are the obvious details. If Job refrains from thinking lustfully with what his eyes see in a girl, then God will keep his heart pure, and the girl will never need to suffer being mentally undressed and looked upon as a cheap product instead of the sacred soul she truly is. Have you ever known how young girls are emotionally distressed when they learn that some men only look upon them as a mere morsel instead of a future woman of God, helping him bring life into the world? Youthful lusts are always abounding around us and sometimes from within us, but from whatever direction youthful lusts hit us, we must be prepared with God’s divine love, powerful promises and personal presence in His Spirit. Walk in His Spirit, Galatians 5:16. Ancient Solomon wrote in Proverbs 7:6-8 that a young man without sense will walk down streets and around corners where wild women live and end up devoured by lust, which wouldn’t happen if he avoided that address in the first place. Even King David was humiliated by his own lust, when he spent too much time in the spring when Kings should be busy with military strategy, instead of relaxing one evening from his rooftop, 2nd Samuel 11:1-3. The beautiful Bathsheba was too strong for his senses and he fell prey to his own desires, Bathsheba was innocently bathing and David was guilty of letting his guard down. He lacked a sense of devotion both to his wife Michal and his duties as a King during springtime. He failed in making a covenant with his eyes.

Greed – Loving Things instead of People.

Luke 12:15 is likely one of the hardest sayings of Jesus for Christians to practice from day to day. Not just because most people don’t know what coveting means, but because we don’t want to guard against it, when we learn what it is. Jesus enforces the 10th commandment but we rarely even pay attention to it. In this article, I’m not referring to single parents or to married spouses who must work because of financial adversity from just one income by their partner. But the grief that often comes through the neglect of children can’t be consoled by a bank balance. The love of money has caused many parents to hand their priceless children over to paid workers to care for them, not because they have to work, but because they choose to. They work either because they find their identity in a career rather than parenting, or because they want more things that money can buy and they won’t discipline themselves to live within the means of one sufficient wage. In this 21st century our society is a greedy capitalistic machine, destroying our nation from the inside out. See Ecclesiastes 5:10. For Christians that love money and allow greed to be a life-style, we get broken relationships, disappointments, and sorrows as self-inflicted wounds. They are the consequences of dethroning the Lord and enthroning money. That’s why the apostle Paul advised, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Tim. 6:17-19).

God permits us to have material blessings for enjoyment, but He isn’t concerned about our possessions. It’s our attitude He cares about. Are we arrogant because we think we are better than someone who is poorer? Do we put our hope in wealth that can be lost, or on God who is eternal? Do we enjoy our possessions as gifts from a loving heavenly Father? Do we enjoy our home, our china, our window treatments, our furniture, our interior decorating, our patio, our yard, our clothes, and our car? Or do we look at them with an ungrateful heart, especially if we’ve just come from visiting someone with a much nicer home, wardrobe, or car? When we have Christ’s perspective, God will bless us with a joyous heart to share with people who are in need because this pleases Him and helps us enjoy liberal giving with the purpose of passing on the Good News. If there is more gratitude in our heart for what we possess, than there is envy, then we will have the motivation to share when given the opportunity. This is not just an attitude towards money but with every physical gift we have. Please see 2nd Corinthians 9:7, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not …”

The condition of our heart is at the center of this disease in loving things instead of people. God’s Word begs us to run as fast as we can from the goal of acquiring material possessions. Recognize it, confess it as sin, and remember this Scripture, “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Tim. 6:11-12).

Instead of defining our worth by our bank accounts, God wants us to be rich in good deeds, to be generous with our money, and to share with those who need it. “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done” (Prov. 19:17). Perhaps the best Scripture to memorize in order to combat this human frailty is Hebrews 13:5. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have. Contentment is based on our expectations and the best expectation is the promise of an eternal inheritance, instead of material things or money which is so temporary in this life