Once my boys found a centipede. They were fascinated with all of those legs and the giant pincer at the front of its mouth. Of course, they asked me if they could keep it, and being that I am a responsible parent and it was venomous, I said yes. For over a year we fed him crickets and whatever small bugs we found. It was quite entertaining to watch him eat. You would think that something so big and scary looking would be a great hunter, but he wasn’t. He was blind and basically wandered around his cage until he bumped into his prey. How did he catch his prey being blind? He was relentless. Once he sensed food, he didn’t stop moving until it was caught. Up the cage, down the cage until he had the prey in his jaws. If the prey let its guard down for a second, that was it.
Lately I have been struggling a lot with my ego, especially as it relates to being humble. The dictionary defines humble as “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.” For me, being humble means not thinking that I am the center of my own world. I must accept that my problems, the things I want, or the things I do aren’t any more important or better than anyone else’s. How did I know I was struggling with this? I had to be right all the time. I didn’t want to give others credit. I would get excessively angry when others didn’t listen to me. I realized that I had to be the center of attention. I also believed that my problems were always worse than everyone else’s.
What a great revelation. I now know that I am a self-centered and selfish person. Identifying that I am this way should be repulsive to me and just make it go away. Well, it didn’t. Much like the centipede we talked about earlier, my selfishness is relentless. The second my guard is down, it will find me, and I’m back down that road of selfishness. No matter how many times the cricket escaped, the centipede was never far behind. Oh, you had a good day yesterday? Good for you! The selfish part of you doesn’t care. It’s still coming for you today.
So what do we do against such an enemy? First, we must be more relentless spiritually than our selfish flesh. In Luke 9:23-24 Jesus says, “. . . If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” This scripture tells us two very important things. First, if you are only focused on you and what you want, you will not find what you are looking for: happiness, joy, peace, purpose. Second, it says that we must renew our sense of purpose and take up our cross DAILY. Every day we get up and pray for His direction and peace in the day that He has given us. We can’t just do this once or on Sunday. We must do it daily. Otherwise our relentless selfishness, like the centipede, will find us.
The second thing that I do to stay on guard against my self-centeredness is that I am learning to be a giver rather than a taker. In Philippians 2:3-5 it says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” The mind of Christ was to take care of the Kingdom. This meant that He looked to the needs of the people around Him and not to what He wanted. So how do I know if I am being self-centered? I know I am only focusing on myself when I feel angry, jealous, or offended. I also become overly focused on my problems and think over and over about how I have been wronged or hurt. The real question is, do you think more about your needs and frustrations or more about how you can help others?
So in the end being truly humble is about taking care of the people around you. It is about seeking their highest good as it relates to the Kingdom. The selfish part of me will always get in the way of doing this, and I must go back to Jesus every day to help me to walk in his spirit and not my flesh.
— Written by Jeremiah
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