The Ransom from Selfishness

Ah, selfishness. It really is an issue. I so badly want to excuse it out of my life. I have a pretty decent list of reasons why it’s not selfish, when I fill-in-the-blank…rant at my family, pocket all my paycheck without sharing with those in need, eat all the chocolate in the chocolate cabinet, brush off a friend who could use a listening ear. The list goes on and on.

I’m a legitimately selfish person. I like my time spent on what I want to spend it on. I like my house to look the way I like it. I like my food to be what I want, when I want it. Since many of you don’t know me, you may be thinking, “Wow. She might just need to get that problem under control.”And I do. But so do you. 😉

Isaiah 47 tells all of us, each and everyone of us, that we need to get this problem under control. Let’s read a little of the Law, but don’t worry, we’ll get to the beautiful Gospel. If you have your Bible available, please read all of Isaiah 47. Below, I will highlight Isaiah 47:8-10 –

Now therefore hear this, you lover of pleasures,
    who sit securely,
who say in your heart,
    “I am, and there is no one besides me;
I shall not sit as a widow
    or know the loss of children”:

 These two things shall come to you
    in a moment, in one day;
the loss of children and widowhood
    shall come upon you in full measure,
in spite of your many sorceries
    and the great power of your enchantments.

You felt secure in your wickedness,
    you said, “No one sees me”;
your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray,
and you said in your heart,
    “I am, and there is no one besides me.”

Oh, Babylon. They were just so much like those of us living in any first world culture today. They thought they were all-that and a bag of chips. (FYI-my fourteen year old had to ask me what I meant by that phrase.) They really had everything they needed – jobs, homes, good food, medical care, relative safety, Starbucks…ok, they didn’t have Starbucks, but you get the point. They felt secure in their pleasures and all the gifts that God had given them. The problem wasn’t the gifts. It was the trust.

The Babylonians had security in a few things that seriously hindered their ability to have a relationship with the Living God. My suggestion is that it would behoove us to take a peek at their issues, so maybe we can avoid or recover from a few of our own. We have a God who heals, who saves, so looking at our sin is never a problem, because we already live in the forgiveness He offers. It simply allows us to really live in that forgiveness more authentically every day.

  • Pleasure – The babylonians put their security in pleasure. If it felt good, if they felt good, and life was going well for them individually, than they were good to go. Who needs God when there’s entertainment? What pleasures do we place our security in today?
  • A life without loss, i.e. “The Good Life” – It’s easy to feel secure when life is going well. Sometimes we look around us and we see others suffer and, sadly, we feel pretty darn secure because we’re doing quite well, thank you. That won’t ever happen to us. We must be really special people. Oh! It must be because we are such good people! (Note my sarcasm.) You can see how this train derails quickly. When we place our security in life going well for us, we have no solid foundation. What happens when we do experience loss? Where do we turn? How have you seen this in your own life or in the world around you?
  • Sorcery, talismans, astrology – This is not ok. We have one God. Searching after the stars, palm readers, horoscopes, lucky charms, psychics, and any other method to tell us our future or give us good stuff is expressively forbidden in the Bible. How do these things lead us away from trusting in the Lord our God?
  • Sin – well, that hits the nail on the head. The Babylonians, according to verse 10, thought their sin was hidden, unseen. The Bible tells us that even when we think we are hiding it well from others, God sees our secret places. This may sound intimidating, but remember that the God who sees, also is the God who forgives. What have we to gain by confessing our sins and revealing the depths of our heart to God? Everything. Light, hope, mercy, grace, and peace, to name a few. How have you seen confession make a difference in being able to truly Live?
  • Wisdom and knowledge – What we know will never save us. What we believe will. We can both miss Jesus because we are so busy searching science and religion for truth away from His Word and we can miss Jesus because we know so much Scripture, but we never let the Word work in our hearts. Faith is not something we can see from the outside, so only God knows if this is someone’s struggle. How have you seen wisdom and knowledge get in the way of faith? How have you seen them be a positive impact to faith?
  • Ourselves – The Babylonians thought they were so cool.“I am, and there is no one besides me.” (v.10) Often times we think we’re so cool too.What do we do, say, or think that shows that part of us that places our trust in ourselves and not in Christ?

Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in what we have, what we need, what we have going for us, that we forget where it came from. The reality is that it could all be gone in a flash, in the blink of an eye.

And that would be ok. Because God would still be Savior of the world.

The real phrase from our hearts – “You are and there is no one besides you, Jesus.”

Oh, goodness, He is so good. God makes it so simple to turn to Him, to lay it down and rest in grace. God does all the work. We were dead in our trespasses, but as baptized children of God we are risen in new life! He raises us up from all that lack of trust and selfishness and grief and puts on new clothes, white clothes, of Jesus kindness, righteousness, and holiness.

“You are, and there is no one besides You, Jesus.”

Say it again,

“You are, and there is no one besides You, Jesus.”

He was for the people of the Old Testament. He is for us today, and He will be tomorrow.

Father, we praise You that You are. We thank you for giving everything to bring us out from where we have been in our own sin and selfishness. Please continue to work in our hearts. Help us daily to place our trust in you, not ourselves, not the things of this world, nothing but You, precious Savior. Jesus, help us lean on you. Spirit, guide us in Truth and wisdom, to seek our True God everyday. We lift our hearts to the One who is both the Ransomer and the Ransom. Thank you, Christ Jesus. Thank you.

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Exploration:

Glance back through the bullet pointed list of things the Babylonians trusted in. You should find it about halfway through today’s study. Chose two and answer the questions included beside each.

Write a statement below, on your Scripture engagement tool, or in a notebook affirming God’s place as the One worthy of putting our trust in. You can use my statement if you’d like – “You are, and there is no one besides You, Jesus.” – or create your own.

 

 

*The Lutheran Study Bible, Concordia Publishing House, pg. 6 and 210

8 thoughts on “The Ransom from Selfishness”

  1. Love every single bit of this. I love the phrase, “there is nothing new under the sun”. As we read about the people of this time I’m reminded that the problems of our world today have been faced before. Our God is the same and will always be. Thank you for that reminder.

  2. Though I have suffered loss, I think I get caught up in the good life sometimes. I am more happy and secure when things go well – everything in the house works, relationships are going well, everyone is healthy. While those blessings are amazing, they cannot make or break my life. That I am God’s child and servant is more important.

    In my mind sometimes, I look down on others for their behavior or lifestyle. Which must mean I think I’m all that. While I don’t have to condone behavior and lifestyle against God’s law, I can love and be Jesus with skin on to those who need His law & gospel. Which, I guess, would be everyone.

  3. That’s so true, it is hard to look at people who are living outside of God’s grace and forgiveness solely with eyes of concern and love. It’s way too easy for me to look down on them.

    This was a sobering passage to read because it’s so true, when things are going well I do think I have it all together. What can come against me? But the only thing I truly have is what God gave me, faith and trust in Him.

    Thanks as always Heidi!

  4. My choosing of 2 are “A life without loss” and “Sorcery”. I also chose a third “Ourselves”.
    1) Loss- What do we do? We ask why, we cry, we get upset, we scream and cry some more.
    Where Do we turn? to friends..family…
    In the world? when relationships fail and you question the what/how/why?
    2) Sorcery- It may feel like an instant answer. They sound and look so accurate it has to be right. Waiting seems to take forever.
    3) Ourselves- Fixing the problem with what we think is instant result…done deal and we credit ourselves for it instead of giving it to God.
    We think we are doing all the right things and then suddenly…Bam! We were wrong and should have waited for the answer from God. God’s timing is always perfect. We forget that or it isn’t fast enough for us and we miss the whole picture.

    1. I just told my husband today, “You know how God’s timing seems to be last minute, but is really right on time…obviously His timetable is very different than mine.” 😊

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