The Waste of Self-Centeredness




Scripture:

2Sam. 18:9   Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. His head caught fast in the oak, and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. 10 A man saw it, and told Joab, “I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” 11 Joab said to the man who told him, “What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 But the man said to Joab, “Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not raise my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, saying: For my sake protect the young man Absalom! 

18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself a pillar that is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance”; he called the pillar by his own name. It is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.

Observation:

Everything that Absalom did was to promote himself. He manipulated the people of Israel for his own benefit. Instead of reconciling with his father he was willing to drag thousands of other people into the fracas. During this battle over 20,000 people died, all because Absalom wanted to have all the power and authority. He was willing to sacrifice the lives of many others so that he could seize power from his own father. 

It’s believed that Absalom’s own vanity may have contributed to his death. We don’t know for sure, but one could speculate that it was his long hair, of which he was so proud, that left him hanging in the tree and vulnerable to his enemy. 

Finally, the story ends by showing us another vision of Absalom’s arrogance. He leaves this earth with just one monument, which was his grave. Sadly, his inscription leaves us wondering about the demise of his three sons, because he must have lost them before his own death. Did he even sacrifice his own sons in his battle for power? 

Absalom had every potential gift; handsome, wealthy, and charismatic, he could have gone through life differently but he wasted it all, destroying the lives of many others out of his own self-centeredness. 

Application:

Examining this situation through a spiritual lens we may just find the person who is running from God. Instead of submitting to the power and authority of the heavenly Father, self-centeredness gets in the way of spiritual life. A stubborn refusal to meet with the Father causes pain for many others who may die because of our defiance. Are we willing to allow many others to hurt because we will not repent and confess our sin before the Father? 

Absalom was placing himself on the throne. He did everything he could to manipulate the situation so that he could simulate being the king. When we place ourselves on the throne we begin to manipulate people and circumstances so that we feel good about what we have done. We gather people around us who will affirm our behavior and encourage us to continue. The passion and commitment is to a person who is not God, and the relationship becomes one of co-dependence. 

Obsession with our physical bodies can also lead to our demise. Recently I read that in the United States we are in danger of turning physical fitness into a new religion. Society is now affirming that it’s appropriate to shame people who may be overweight, or who do not eat the appropriate health foods. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being healthy, unless we allow health to become an obsession in our lives. As far as I know, we are all still destined to die! We can spend an obsessive amount of time and energy on this temporal body, or we can keep our eyes focused on the eternal. We can spend our Sundays working out and playing sports, or we can still place a priority on going to church and worshiping the Lord. If we don’t, we may just be worshiping our own physical bodies more than we do the Lord. Do we spend more time each week in working out than we do with the Lord? 

When we become overly focused on ourselves we can, quite willingly, sacrifice our loved ones. Maybe they seem like stumbling blocks to our personal goals and so, we find them expendable. Many a relationship has been kicked to the curb when we waste our time on self-centered activity. At the end of the day we will be left with no one to keep us in remembrance. 

The solution to all of this behavior has been provided in Jesus Christ. Through his self-emptying personal sacrifice, he made a way for all of us to live transformed lives. We are invited to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, leaving behind the empty shell of self-centeredness. Now we have the joy of living the Christ-centered life that will lead us to ever higher heights of spiritual growth and development — meaning that we become more and more like Christ. When that happens we shed self-centeredness and are blessed to enjoy a beautiful life in Christ. These lives are not wasted as they are poured out as a drink offering before the Father, and for the sake of others. Thousands are brought to life, not to death, as a result of the Christ-centered life. 

The self-centered life may feel good for a moment, but it will become a waste. 

Prayer:

Lord, there are moments of temptation toward self-centeredness. I pray that in those moments that you would be close and that my heart would heed your gentle nudge. Amen. 

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