The last few months have been filled with screens and images of our family, friends, and co-workers trying to connect in a situation that has made relationships very difficult. Thus enter Zoom – the amazing platform that allows us to see and talk to multiple people at once without having to leave the comfort of our own living room. This means of communication has not only been a lifesaver to maintaining community, it has, in many instances, grown it. And for me personally, it has been wonderful to make lunch, check in on kids’ homework, take the trash out, and jump on a work call – all in the space of fifteen minutes because drive times are eliminated.
However, have you noticed where your eyes tend to go as you stare at the screen for hours upon hours of meetings or classroom discussions? I am willing to bet your pupils aren’t as focused on the person speaking. There is also a good chance that the speaker isn’t watching the faces of the others. Our attention is captured and enraptured by the the most important person in life: ourselves. We are fasciated by our own appearance. Call it vanity or call it natural, we love to see how we appear. We are captivated with ourselves: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Speaking of ugly, allow me to be honest: I am sick of my chin, my teeth, my eyes, and the way my hat sits on my head – just to name a few. Is this what I really look like? Does my appearance bother other people as much as it bothers me?
Human nature zooms in on self. We can’t help it. We are the most important person in our world. Two things that (almost) move me away from a focus on self are my marriage and raising kids, but even then, my nature is really good at figuring out a way to put self first.
An important passage that has helped me deal with the perpetual nature of self-focus can be found in Philippians 2:3, where the writer Paul says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Valuing others above ourselves is one of the most important things we can do as we interact with humanity. Think of how different the world would be today if we truly lived this out. Hate, anger, violence, and oppression would be replaced by love, peace, unity, and compassion.
Post-Reading Question: What is one selfish pattern in your life that you are aware of? Be honest.
Prayer:</strong Heavenly Father, we lay at your feet our lives and our desires and our habitual focus on ourselves. Help us to put you first, others second, and ourselves third. We ask you for the strength to resist selfish moments and the grace to forgive ourselves when we fail. Thank you for your unselfish example on the cross and for giving your life so that we might live.