When I awaken each morning, I enter into worship, thanking God for receiving the new mercies for a new day. This morning, the Holy Spirit prompted me to read my evening devotional, which spoke about “a life centered in self.”
In the mid to late 90s, I worked in New York City, which required public transportation due to limited parking and traffic gridlocks. The New Jersey Transit system accommodated their interstate commuters with comfortable buses, making the 60-75 minute commute tolerable. I experienced an entirely new dimension of life in Upper Manhattan. The diversity of the various cultures revealed itself through the foods, clothing, languages, stores. Yes, it was fast, but every aspect of the city’s daily activities was exciting, with one exception. One concept boldly stood out–people had no consideration for others. Their observable behaviors and spoken words reflected “Only Me.”
Growing up with a Mother who is an ordained minister produced a benevolent spirit within me. In the church we attended, members helped each other along with many people in their communities. My elementary education was in a private Christian school, which instilled in the students to help those in need. We had field trips 1-2 times monthly to participate in charitable community activities. But a change has occurred in my mindset since I now live as head of household. My prevailing thoughts usually consist of my present and future.
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.” Matthew 6:31-32
So, lets look at two perspectives [ psychosocial and spiritual] of “Me versus We.”
“Me versus We” is not a new concept. Sociology is a social science that analyzes human interactions, the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society.
One big difference that psychologists have found between cultures is the difference between independence vs. interdependence as ways of thinking. These two ways of thinking come down to how we think of ourselves. One way of thinking is to consider yourself as an independent entity, focused on your own needs and desires. Another way of thinking is to consider yourself as an interdependent entity, focused on how you fit within a group of people. http://socialpsychonline.com/2016/01/independence-vs-interdependence-mindsets/
New research has shown that these mindsets can have a lot to do with how we visually see the world around us. socialpsychonline.com.
What a powerful and revealing concept; we are influenced by what we see.
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. Mathew 6:22.
The things that we visualize with our eyes can propel us into changing our morals, values, and influence us to participate in sinful and dangerous activities. David warns us of looking without restraint: I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. Psalm 101:3. Our eyes feed our desires. Eventually, we become desensitized to the devastation of sin. Instead of hating sin, as God does, we begin to enjoy the things that our eyes see.
We may console ourselves by saying, “But I do help others through my contributions.” Yes, we have philanthropists, non-profit organizations, persons who give charitable contributions and perform good deeds because they are motivated to help those in need. But that is not how God sees the spiritual aspect of “Me versus We.” Being a servant of God is not the same as a being a financial contributor. Jesus is the role model for the believer. Throughout Jesus’ life, His love and compassion is displayed for humanity by meeting their physical and spiritual needs through teaching the Word of God, and countless acts of alleviating suffering. He stood for justice [remember the woman caught in adultery?], fed multitudes, healed physical ailments, and raised the dead.
Jesus’ conversation with His disciples:
When evening came, the disciples came to Him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is already late. Dismiss the crowds so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” “They do not need to go away,” Jesus replied. “You give them something to eat.” Matthew 14:15-16.
We are also Jesus’ disciples. Where do we stand? Which mindset are we embracing, Me or We? Are we dismissing those in need by looking the other way? Do we consider giving back our tithe and offerings enough? What does God require of us?
Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the needy. Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people. Psalm 82:3-4
In all things, I have shown you that by working hard in this way, we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
Carry the burden of souls upon your heart, and by every means in your power, seek to save the lost. As you receive the Spirit of Christ—the Spirit of unselfish love and labor for others—you will grow and bring forth fruit. The graces of the Spirit will ripen in your character. Your faith will increase, your convictions deepen, your love be made perfect. More and more, you will reflect the likeness of Christ in all that is pure, noble, and lovely.”—Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 67, 68.
Bible Study: 2 Kings 4 [Elisha Helps a Poor Widow]
Prayer: God, we confess and ask repentance for possessing a “Me” mindset. We desire to serve others as you continue to serve us. We ask you to please reveal the persons who need physical provisions and spiritual comfort. As we enter the Sabbath, please help us to focus on your life of serving humanity. In Jesus’ Holy name, we pray. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson