I just knew that looking into this week’s focus—selfishness—would hurt! That’s because, when push comes to shove, I’ve often chosen to be selfish rather than generous with my mate. It would be easy for me to point to my upbringing as the somewhat spoiled youngest in my family.
My parents yielded to my way an awful lot of the time for various reasons. No disrespect intended!
Certainly, as an adult, I’m responsible for my choices and actions no matter how my childhood experiences shaped me. Much of the time, being selfish has won out because I’ve been afraid that giving to my spouse might enable bad behaviors or spoil him.
So before I dive into the inventory, I’d like to distinguish between being generous or sacrificial and acting like a doormat.
How Being a Doormat Differs from Being Sacrificial
A doormat chooses to keep the peace, especially if there might be fallout for you personally.
If you’re a sacrificial spouse, you know that being sacrificial doesn’t mean you’re required to sacrifice peace or integrity.
God calls us to lovingly confront when someone continues to sin against and take advantage of us. See Matthew 18:15 for proof.
A doormat feels obligated to give, rather than giving from the heart.
But, as a sacrificial spouse, you give to your mate from the reservoir of God’s love and generosity (Rom. 13:8; Eph. 5:21).
A doormat believes that “turning the other cheek” or “doing good to those who hate you” means completely turning your life and protection over to others.
The sacrificial spouse recognizes that there are healthy limits on how much you should give. So you always consider what’s responsible and caring for all who might be affected (Gal. 6:2-5).
How Sacrificial and Generous are You with Your Mate?
(Click Generous & Sacrificial Inventory to download). Hover over each Scripture to see where the questions spring from—scoring yourself using this grid: 1 never; 2 rarely; 3 sometimes; 4 often; 5 very often.
1. I consistently avoid a competitive or superior attitude in marriage by generously giving to my spouse rather than trying to get something for myself (Phil. 2:3-4).
Unfortunately, I’m a “3” here, because I tend to be too competitive and sometimes too prideful. It’s probably because I’m somewhat insecure. But I have every reason to be the most secure person ever when I remember God loves me in spite of my pride and insecurities.
If this is a problem for you too, there might be a whole lot of arguing in your marriage or at least distance. No one wants to draw close to an “opponent” or a “know-it-all.”
2. When my spouse receives something I’ve wanted, I don’t let this tempt me to envy him/her, but rather use this as an opportunity to praise and root for my mate (James 3:16).
Again, for me, this is a “3.” It’s that same ol’ competitive spirit wreaking havoc in my life and marriage.
If you struggle here, your spouse is likely missing out on the bond that can be felt when a joy is shared!
3. I’m keenly aware of how hard my spouse works and regularly look for opportunities to give to or serve him/her in some way (Prov. 11:25).
Okay, this is getting embarrassing! Lol! I gave myself a “3” here too, even though I tend to do this more than numbers #1 and #2! Sadly, it’s still an area I need to improve on!
If you aren’t consistently doing this, your spouse may be growing resentful, especially if he/she is a very sacrificial person. Don’t wait till your mate finds someone else who will notice how hard he/she works!
4. I realize just how selfish I can be and work hard daily to counter this tendency by learning and applying God’s truths to my heart and life (Psalm 119:36).
Yay! I finally have one that I can rate myself a “5” for! 😉 But the credit all goes to God for a continual dose of conviction that comes as I daily study God’s word.
If you struggle here, the fix is simple—get into God’s word on a daily basis! Nothing will work to remove selfishness from your life better than God and His word!
5. When Christ asks me to sacrifice my interests and desires for my mate’s desires, I’m quick to follow my Savior’s lead out of gratitude to Him (Gal. 2:20).
This one is probably a “5” for me again, but only because I am a soft-touch with Jesus! When I sense He wants me to give more to Gary, I almost always hop to it!
If you struggle here, it might mean you’ve got more of a problem with Jesus than you do with your mate. Evaluate the spiritual condition of your heart.
6. I love my spouse as much as, or even more than, I love myself (Mark 12:31).
Aww, man! I was doing so well for the moment. ; ) But I’d say I’m a “3” here. Far too much of my heart is devoted to my own desires and concerns. 😦
If your feelings of love aren’t stronger, don’t grow frustrated. Get busy doing loving things, and the feelings will follow!
7. I work hard at being friendly and agreeable with my spouse, not for my sake but for my spouse’s sake (Prov. 18:1).
This one is probably a “3” for me, and my tendency to be selfish in this regard—how it benefits me—cannot be denied.
If you struggle here, change this up by being friendly and agreeable with your spouse out of your love for Christ. He’s the best Motivator there is!
8. I look out for my mate’s heart and desires first and foremost—not as a doormat, but out of my love for Christ (Rom. 12:10).
Again, “3” is all I get for this one! Too often I make things about me, until Christ convicts me. The transformation needs to come sooner—making this a worthy goal for me!
If you struggle here, look to God for His love. He will quickly extend love to you, so that you have more than enough to extend to your spouse.
9. When my desires conflict with my mate’s, I don’t push for my way, but rather make it a matter of prayer—trusting God to resolve the issue (James 4:1-3).
I was torn on this because I usually push for my way, but then usually surrender my desires to God. So maybe I’m a “4” on this one.
If you’re struggling here, get busy praying! You’ll be amazed at how soon this softens your heart toward your mate!
10. I’m always on the look out for a way to give to or do for my spouse because I know this, ultimately, blesses God (Luke 6:38).
Do I do this immediately or as often as I should? No. But God does motivate me quite often to bless my husband, so maybe I’m a “4.” Shwew! I’m so happy to be finishing on a slightly positive note! 😉
If you struggle here, remember that the best Motivator and Supplier of generosity in your life is God! Look to Him to supply all you need.
My application for this week will be to work on #8. I’m going to give to Gary, first and foremost, rather than worrying about protecting my interests. Click here to view/download the Generous/Sacrificial Inventory to know how to tabulate your overall score. Then choose one area of weakness to formulate an action point like I did and am!
Be sure to join me next week when I’ll be examining submission and unity in marriage. Click Insight for 2020 Series to find all the other posts in this series.
What will you choose to work on this week in your life and marriage, and why?
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