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God designed humans to be utterly selfish beings. This means that we have self-serving motivations behind everything we do. Our relationship with God is no exception. We initially submit to God not because we think He’s so glorious, but because we don’t want to fry in Hell. After that we only serve God in order to get things from Him—things that are extremely important to us.
To avoid getting bogged down in condemnation or unnecessary frustration, you need to have an accurate understanding of how God defines spiritual maturity. God has no intention of turning us into selfless beings. God doesn’t want us to morph into passionless, opinion-less automatons who sit around droning mechanical praises at Him. On the contrary, God wants us to remain self-serving creatures who only serve Him in order to get something that we consider to be supremely important. Maturing has nothing to do with changing our give-to-get nature. Maturity is about God changing what kinds of rewards we are interested in.
When we are immature, we define “great rewards” as things which will enable us to live a cushy existence on earth. Essentially, we are out to satisfy all the appetites of our depraved flesh. Money, sex, friends, fame—we serve God with these kinds of paybacks in mind. When He doesn’t give them to us, we get attitudinal. We throw tantrums and pout. We try fasting and bribing. We try wielding the power of Scriptures only to discover that they don’t have any power after all. This is where we start and it isn’t pretty. But the good news is that the Holy Spirit is a genius when it comes to maturing human beings. Under His brilliant tutelage, we find new appetites developing within us. God’s approval, love, and pleasure start becoming more important to us. Before we only thought about pleasing our flesh. Now we’re thinking about closer communion with God. Our selfishness hasn’t gone anywhere, but our priorities are clearly changing.
God has no desire for kids who can take or leave His approval, affirmation, and love. He wants kids who are greedy for as much of Him as they can get. He wants kids who are panting after His Company, and cherishing the sound of His Voice in their minds. If God were to make you selfless, all the zest would go out of His relationship with you. If you only cared about pleasing God for His sake and not yours, that just wouldn’t be satisfying to Him at all. Do you want to go on a vacation with someone who is only coming along to humor you or with someone who greatly delights in your company? God wants your relationship with Him to be a two-way street. Mutual joy is what He’s after, not Him being joyful while you sit there like an uninvested lump. God is passionate about you and He wants you to be passionate about Him.
Serving God the way He wants to be served is a very selfish pursuit on your part. The selfish element is critical, because that’s what makes you jealously cling to God like your great prize and joy. God wants you to be INTO Him, not so detached from yourself that you’re just reflecting someone else’s viewpoint. God’s love for you is extremely personal and He wants your desire for Him to be personal as well. This means that you must be selfish—so selfish that satisfying yourself will always be of utmost importance to you. The Holy Spirit then matures you to the point that you cannot feel satisfied until you know that you are an endless source of blessing and joy to your Creators. That’s when everyone is happy. They are pleased because Their pleasure is of such supreme importance to you, and you are pleased because you are getting what you want most of all: Them being pleased with you. It’s a glorious cycle in which your selfish nature plays a critical role. So stop waiting for God to make you less selfish, because that’s not on His agenda for you at all. You will always give to get with God, and to Him that is a marvelous thing when HE is the reward you are after.
The Gift of Ego