Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Live No Longer for Themselves"

In our midweek meeting recently, we watched the video together about two Witnesses looking back on decisions they made and how their lives turned out because of it. One giving up a football career, the other a career as an opera singer. In the course of the video, the sister quoted 2 Corinthians 5:15.

"And he died for all so that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised up."

Fairly familiar verse. Read it multiple times, heard it quoted even more. Now I'll be perfectly honest, I never gave it much thought. For one, I have no marketable skill that would lead someone to offer me a multi-million dollar contract, so no worries there. But more than that, I felt like I was already doing a pretty good job of applying this verse. When I was 18 I moved to where the need was greater, spent some time at Bethel, and I have no goals of a career in the world, pretty much no possessions, and pretty much no money. So what's the worry?

(Aside from the horrific lack of humility this line of thinking reveals in me, which is definitely something I'll have to give attention to soon)

"I believe this book has some excellent advice for you about that. Let me find that section..."


As the video played at the meeting and the words of the verse were popped up on the big screen, a small piece of that scripture stuck in my mind.

"Live no longer for themselves."

It occurred to me that the way we live involved a lot more than what we do for work. Throughout the rest of that part (and meeting) those words kept nagging at me, so when I got home I decided to do some reading about them. Looking 2 Corinthians 5:15 up in the Watchtower Library led me to the May 15, 2010 Watchtower. Towards the end of that magazine there's an article titled "Sow to the Spirit and Reach Out". In the article they discuss the verse in question over two paragraphs. Here's a brief piece with the most relevance to my sudden rant.

"Meditating on the love Christ has for people stirs up gratitude within us. As a result, we realize that it would be most unfitting for us to keep on ‘sowing with a view to the flesh’ by pursuing selfish goals..."

Perfect, I thought, I'm avoiding selfish goals! (Argh, there's that humility thing again) But the paragraph isn't finished yet.

"... and living largely to gratify ourselves."

There's the problem. Even though I'm serving where the need is greater, this made me consider how much time I'm actually spending doing what I should be doing, versus how much time I'm basically just goofing off doing whatever I feel like.

Case in point: I recently finished reading an 897 page novel ... for the third time. The day I finished it, I was home and laying in a hammock, despite the fact that it was one of my regular service days. I opted to stay home because I'd made my time for the month, and chose to just relax instead.

It's worth noting I wasn't stressed out or overworked or anything of the sort. Obviously relaxation is important, but I wasn't seeking much needed R&R. This was just laziness.

"Siiiiiigh ... for shame Josh. For shame."


I realized this was in fact much worse than I'd anticipated as I thought about how much work I'd put into preparing for that meeting we just had, and specifically the part with that video. Sure, I read through all the material, but did I really take the time to make sure I understood it and could apply it to myself? Clearly not, as I didn't even watch the video. I reasoned to myself I'd seen it when it first came out, seen it a second time when we had a Kingdom Ministry part about it, and seen it a third time when I watched it at Jeff Guess' house. Instead, I willfully chose to skip watching it in preparation for that meeting, and rather watched a Spencer Tracy movie I'd been hoping to see for some time.

Obviously I'm not saying all recreation is bad, but I'm realizing I need to re-examine how much time I'm spending living for me, doing stuff just because I think it sounds fun.

And also work some more on that humility thing, clearly.

"Get your act together. Yeesh."

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