Sober but Selfish
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3
In my drug addiction, it was obvious that my way was a disaster. I followed me and I made a mess of life. In that calamity, I clearly needed something outside of me to follow. For me, God was the obvious answer. In abandoning my way to follow his, I know I’ll never return to active addiction. Now, in sharing my story with others who struggle, I often ask about their faith. Not everyone believes in God, but those who’ve been addicted cans see that their way has led to catastrophe. Most recognize a need to follow some higher power outside of themselves. This isn’t a difficult leap because they’ve all seen the obvious destruction of following their natural appetites.
The problem for many of us though, is that we want God to take only our addiction. That’s the thing that has caused us so much pain and so, we want it gone. We’d prefer that God leave the rest of our lives alone though. We don’t want to have to change everything. We just want a surgical excision of that one life problem. We want to be sober but we’d still like to live our way.
In today’s passage though, Paul described the Christian life very differently. Following Christ means that we must work at abandoning our way in everything. We must stop seeking our will and, in humility, learn to treat others as well as we treat ourselves. We must seek not only our interests, but the interest of others.
Suddenly, I’m not as interested in the new life. Yes, I want to be sober, but I’m not sure I’m ready to treat others as better than myself. When it comes to my time and money, I want to spend those things on me and my family. I’m not sure I’m ready for a life where I treat my neighbor as good as I treat myself. I want to be sober, but I also want to be selfish.
I don’t think I’m alone here. Today’s passage reveals that we all have a lot of growing up to do. Yes, we believe in God and yes, we claim to follow him. Putting others ahead of ourselves though is contrary to everything in us. It’s our nature to put ourselves first. For those of us with an addiction though, it’s our nature that has caused us so much misery. If we desire the new life, we must continually follow God’s will, even when he asks us to put others ahead of ourselves.