Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
I have been trying to write a blog post for a few days now, but have been struggling a bit. I have had this subject on my mind for a few days, but really didn’t want to write about it. But it didn’t go away. So here goes.
Going back to my year in re:generation, when we speak to the group we say something like, “hello, my name is Bob, I have a new life in Christ. I struggle with (in my case) anger, fear and depression. So, for the past year, I have been asking God to work in my life in these areas. And He has been working. But one-day last week, I came home from working at the ministry, and just sat down and told God I can’t take it anymore. What made it worse was that I could not really find a reason to be depressed. I have my usual problems with my knees, but over all have been feeling pretty good and things have been going good with the ministry. I guess I had been fixating my mind that day on one area that in my life that has been a struggle for me. Anyway that night, I just fell into a deep depression, or maybe it was a “blue funk” as we used to call it back in the day. The next day, it was a struggle just to get out of bed and get into the ministry. But I got there.
Over the weekend, I did what I could to not let this rule my life. I prayed, read and studied the Bible, surrendered things to the Lord. The Lord was faithful and brought me out of things a bit, for which I was grateful. I began to wonder what happened, because I really thought I was getting on top of this sort of thing. I used to blame these episodes on my “temperament type” which is basically a melancholy/phlegmatic temperament, if you know what that is. I would tell myself that since I inherited this temperament from my parents and grandparents, there was nothing I could do about it, so I would just ride it out so to speak. But that was not the case this time. I have been seeking the Lord to fill me with the Holy Spirit and to follow Christ, instead.
So, here comes the hard part of this blog post to write. Given the three areas in my life I have been struggling with; anger, fear and depression, I wondered what the “real” cause of these were. So I have been reading up on the subject, being careful what I read so as not to make things worse.
Of course, there is no one cause for any problem area in our lives, but I believe that for the Christ follower, there is a basic cause. Not to oversimplify things here is the basic causes I discovered for my three issues that I have been struggling for years: Anger-selfishness; Fear-selfishness; Depression-self-pity which by the way, is also selfishness. What??? none of that sounds very good! What about all the wrongs that have been done to me? What about the hard or sad circumstances of my life? This isn’t comforting at all!
I’d like to mention a couple of things I have learned from my time of reflection and study that may be a help to us. First, let me say, these three; anger, fear and depression are universal problems for almost every one of us on this planet. Also, these three are no respecter of persons. They strike the rich and the poor, the healthy and the sick. Another thing I have learned is that anger, fear and depression are connected. When you become angry at someone or something, it can cause you to fear whatever it is and will ultimately cause depression.
So, what can we do about this? There is some good news. I have come to believe, that anger, fear and depression are basically caused by selfishness and at Believers, selfishness can be overcome because the Holy Spirit lives within us. I don’t want to minimize what may have happened to you in your life or what your problems may be. Nor do I want to oversimplify things. But, here my take on this. When we think of selfishness, what does it mean? In short, it is focusing our lives around ourselves rather than God. When we focus on ourselves, we cannot love others.
In our most recent service at Stonepoint, the pastor focused on the book of Jonah. Now, I have heard a lot of messages on this book and figured I had learned all I could about Jonah. But ever since I came to Stonepoint, time after time God has blown my socks off of me. This last service was no exception. Just briefly, At the end of Jonah 3, God relented on his plans to destroy Nineveh because the people repented. As the preacher, you would think you would be ecstatic. But Jonah was angry (4:1). In verse 2 of chapter 4 we read that Jonah knew this was going to happen and that is exactly what Jonah did not want to happen! In other words, Jonah had no love for these people, and rightly so in his mind. They had done terrible things to the Jewish people.
So, we finally come to the lesson. Sorry it took so long. I think one of the best ways to get rid of selfishness is to replace it with love. Sounds simple enough, but if you have struggled in this area, you know how difficult it can be. In John 13, Jesus issued a command to His Disciples, to love one another. And He further said that the people of the world will know we belong to Christ by our love for our brothers and sisters. We have a hard enough time just doing that, much love less love the world. How can we ever love as Jesus wanted us to? I’d like to close this with a couple practical steps that I learned from my study and the latest messages church.
First, start serving others generously. Men, if you are married, I would suggest that you serve your spouse and family. One of my biggest sins and regret is that I did not always serve my wife out of love as the scripture commands. She is now with the Lord and it is too late for me to do that. She no longer needs me to serve her. But God has dealt with me in His mercy and I’ve repented and know God has forgiven me. But there is still sadness on my part that may never go away. We need to look for ways to generously serve others.
Second, we can read and memorize Philippians 2:3-4 and ask God to incorporate it into our lives. If we could just make this passage part of our lives, we would no longer have selfish motives in what we do.
Finally, as Pastor Brandon mentioned this past Sunday, we can come out of our comfort zones. This is very difficult for some of us. But we can, by God’s grace, abandon ourselves and serve others with true and pure motives. Our recent service ended with this quote: “missions isn’t something we do, it’s something we are.” God help us to be missionaries. Whether it is to our families, our church, the local community or around the world!
May God make us people who serve with abandonment. Through the Spirit of God may we seek to rid ourselves of selfishness, self-seeking, self-gratification, self- righteousness, and may we radically love others and serve others. This can only come as we get to know and trust God more in our lives. But it can happen! Blessings to you!