“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved
is that of overcoming self.”
-St. Francis of Assisi

I’ve been traveling on a very interesting road these past few months. From the blind corner of Autumn, in which I found myself walking my mom through her brain surgery, to the surprising discoveries that followed, it has led me to this particular truth: I am selfish.

And, after listening to a million news stories accounting the details of last week’s Black Friday, I have a strong suspicion I am not alone. Fights over pink dollhouses. Stealing tickets to get the steals and deals of electronic “must haves.”

In light of this recent rash re-discovery of my sad selfish nature, I’ve decided to do something a little “out of the ordinary” during this particular Advent Season: study and practice selflessness. Oh dear me, I know I will be tested and so I head into this with great caution and care.

I found Luke 22 a perfect place to start. Known primarily for the exposition of Jesus’s Last Supper, I found a gem right in the middle:

“A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22: 24-30, NIV).

Holy Moly! My take away from this?

  1. Jesus’s directive hurts. It is COUNTER CULTURAL to be selfless. Verse 26 says it clearly, “You are not to be like that.” Like what? We are not to be like those who “lord” over others. Who think they are better. Entitled. Superior. Deserving. Ouch. I’ll be chewing on this one all day.
  2. Jesus’s directive humbles. It CHALLENGES us to overcome self. He doesn’t just talk the talk, oh no, he walks the walks. Verse 27b, “I am among you as one who serves.”
  3. Jesus’s directive honors. It CALLS forth blessing. The word is “confers.” Simply said it means “to bestow an honor on…” As painful as selflessness is at the time, one day we will be honored by Jesus himself. Not one person on the planet may “see” or “know” our acts of service, but Jesus sees it all. Verse 29 blows my mind, “And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me…” I’ve known Jesus for over thirty years and I don’t think I’ve ever really read this verse. Jesus confers a kingdom on me. I will sit at HIS table and DINE with him. I’ve got to repeat that, “I confer on you a kingdom.”

Wow. That takes my breath away and gives me serious food for thought.

Today is a great day to begin the renewed practice of “selflessness.” I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that there will be a million ways to do this. Author Melissa de la Cruz writes, “This was what love meant after all: sacrifice and selflessness. It did not mean hearts and flowers and a happy ending, but the knowledge that another’s well-being is now more important than one’s own.”

Have you ever faced an opportunity to live out the type of selfless service Jesus talks about in Luke 22? If so, you don’t have to share the entire story, but maybe one little thought that might help us all grow in selflessness? Let’s do this. Let’s make this ADVENT SEASON a real preparation for the true celebration of Christ in the world.

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