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Remote Control

Remote Control

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

At a weekly bible study in our local jail, I have heard many stories of conflict and fights. Though there are various causes, the most common stories revolve around the remote control. It is not uncommon for blood to be spilled over this. One television for 20 guys means there is a constant power struggle with 20 grown men vying for command. My will is the most important. I am in charge here.

I remember this same conflict in treatment, where there was a perpetual contest of power to wield the remote. At that time, I could see my need for humility, so I made a conscious decision to stay out of such battles. I chose to sit in the back of the van, putting others ahead of myself. The pursuit of my will had led to such destruction that I recognized my need to be humbled. I learned not to put my appetite above all.

Pride does not die so easily though. Selfish ambition slowly returns. Three years after treatment, drugs have not snuck back, but my conceit is alive and well.  Pride has a way of infecting my thinking and behavior, even if it never reaches the level of a formal thought.

I rarely say, I am better than you or My will is more important, though I act this way all the time. With family and work, I continually seek my own will. I do not consciously think myself better than anyone, but I act like it. My will must be done.

Most of us naturally put our own needs and desires above those around us. This will look different for different people. For some, the conflict is about something as obvious as a remote control. Others will gossip, putting others down to promote self. Some will use their force of personality to inflict their will on family and neighbor. Still others will elevate themselves with affirmation from those they find beautiful or successful. However it manifests, the defect at the core of these behaviors is the need to promote self above all. I am important. I am attractive. I require affirmation. My needs must be met. My will be done.

This, of course, is the problem. It is my nature to continually seek my will above God’s will. Jesus insisted that I must love God above all and love my neighbor as myself. A life focused on me is a life headed for pain and misery. If I want to know real life and abandon the destruction of me, I must figure out what my remote control is. Then, I must give it up.

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