Parables: “The Sower and the Four Soils”

Parables: “The Sower and the Four Soils”

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 7.09.34 PMOne of Jesus’ favorite methods of revealing the secrets of God’s Kingdom to his followers is by telling stories called parables. He uses various illustrations from everyday life to communicate spiritual truths to this diverse audience. Jesus refers to farmers, fishermen, and merchants as he draws ideas from their occupations. Not everyone understood what he was teaching, and sometimes even his closets followers needed Jesus to explain the meaning of his parables.

What is a parable?

In the Greek the word means: “a similitude (“parable”), that is, (symbolically) fictitious narrative (of common life conveying a moral), parable, proverb.” (Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Definitions G3846)

The word parable is from the root word “paraballo” in the Greek. This compound word comes from “para” which means “to come along side or compare” and “ballo” which literally means “to throw” or “see” with.

The parables are used in giving one or more instructional lessons or principles and can be an allegory and may include inanimate objects (like trees, plants, or things) or people in various positions in society.

There is often a tension between good and evil or sinful and holy meaning that they can proclaim what is good versus what is bad and what is evil in contrast to what is holy or God-like.

A parable is often a significant comparison between two objects that may be used as a mirror image of a comparable object to teach a single concept or teaching.   Some of the key words that Jesus usually concludes the parables with are phrases that alert the listener to pay close attention to what was just said and may include such words as “He who has ears, let him hear”or “Most assuredly I say to you,” and “How much more.”

Jesus wants the listeners to focus on what was just stated in the parable so that they will comprehend what Jesus is trying to teach them. (http://www.patheos.com)

A Sunday School definition would be: A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.

There are over 40 parables in the New Testament, but did you know there are also many in the Old Testament too? Did you also know that 35% of Jesus teachings were parables?

Jesus clearly gives parables to hide the meaning from those whose hearts are hardened.  Some of the parables are hard to understand but they frequently serve as object lessons that use experiences from life to clearly communicate a meaning for Jesus’ teachings.

Jesus quotes Isaiah the Prophet by saying:

Matthew 13:34 – 35 NKJV

All these Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.”

This is found in…

Psalm 78:2 NKJV

I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old.

The Disciples questioned why Jesus spoke in parables when He talked to the people.

Matthew 13:11 – 15 NLT

He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets (Greek: the mysteries) of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables.

For they look, but they don’t really see.

They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.

This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,

When you hear what I say, you will not understand.

When you see what I do, you will not comprehend.

For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear,

and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cant see,

and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand,

and let me heal them.”

We are embarking on a new sermon series; Parables, from now to the end of Summer. We will be looking at powerful teachings from Jesus and applying them to our everyday life. You don’t want to miss a Sunday service during this series. Believing God will teach us mighty things to take us to a higher level in Him, Amen!

The Parable of the Sower and the Four Types of Soil

Jesus used common scenes from everyday life to teach new truths about the Kingdom of God. The amazing thing is that we can experience these truths here on earth to prepare us for that glorious day when Jesus comes to take His own to Heaven with Him. I am looking forward to that glorious day, are you?

Read Matthew 13:1 – 9 NKJV

Read Matthew 13:1 – 9 NLT

There are three elements to this parable: The sower, the seed, and the soils. I want to talk about all three elements in further detail to understand what Jesus was wanting the listener to understand.

1. The Sower.

In this parable the Sower is unknown. This story speaks simply of the fate of the seed sown, the different kinds of soil on which it fell, and the effect it produced. So who was Jesus talking about when He said, “Behold, the sower went forth to sow”? and in the New Living Translation we read, “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds.” The words “Behold” or “Listen” implies we need to pay attention to what Jesus was about to say.

The Sower is…

a. God Himself.

Jeremiah 31:27 NKJV

Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast.

God is saying here that He will sow in the house of Israel and Judah seed to bring forth man and cattle. We have such a persistent and over abundant Sower we serve. He constantly sows/plants seeds in our lives to grow spiritually, physically, financially, and so much more. God’s character is to bring growth and good things. God knows full well that much seed He sows falls by the wayside and yet He knows a great harvest is going to come. Many will reject, and many will receive what God has to say.

b. Christ Jesus.

Jesus even announces Himself as the Sower in Matthew 13:37 NKJV, “Jesus replied, “The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed.”  He is constantly sowing seeds in our life. What type of soil do you have when He sows? Let us be people who readily receive what Jesus teaches and allowing it to sink down into our spirit and bring forth good fruit!

c. Holy Spirit.

He is the One who brings inspiration for the sower to sow the seed, and waters it. Holy Spirit is like the wind which blows as it wills and every breathe of that Spirit is the Word of God. Life giving! His language is unexpected and life changing in our life. We know what it is like to have our spirit touched and inspired to scatter seeds for God’s Kingdom. We see someone hurting or needs encouragement and we are compelled to go and talk to them. That is the Holy Spirit sowing seeds in our heart, and in return, we sow seeds in others. Which leads me to my next point.

d. Every Christian.

In Commissioning us, Jesus spoke of the hearts of men as the field, and His Gospel as the seed to be cast everywhere.

Matthew 28:19 – 20 NKJV

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Mark 16:20 NKJV

And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

What Jesus began to teach, His Apostles continued teaching. The Apostle Paul regarded his whole ministry as a sowing of spiritual things.

1 Corinthians 9:11 NKJV

If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?

Acts 9:15 NKJV

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.

From the time of his remarkable conversion, Paul knew that he was a chosen vessel for sowing the precious seed of the Gospel into the human hearts wherever an opening should appear among the Jews and Gentiles.

It is the privilege and obligation of all who are Christ’s to function as sowers. We are saved to serve and sow! Compared to the huge field of lost souls, the sowers are view.

God needs everyone of us to do our part to sow seeds into the hearts of those who do not know Him. We can do this by the spoken word, and also by our lifestyle. Is your lifestyle giving God a bad name or a good name? Are you sowing good seeds, or are they selfish, sinful seeds? The world is watching you. Be the best representative of Christ to your world!

Our heavenly Father, the Husbandman, exhorts us to pray that He would send more sowers into His field. Everyone! Not just the preachers and the teachers of God, but all of us should be sowing in God’s field.

The Greatest service any Christian can give is sowing the good seed of the Word. Words and works are seeds to drop in the soil of the hearts. We as Christians need to be sowing in season and out of season; devoted, yielded heartily, entirely and sincerely to this greatest of all tasks.

Sowing is hard work and may sometimes seem like fruitless work. Or it may seem like your works are wasted. But God’s Word promises us that we shall always reap the fruits of our seeds with Joy!

Psalms 126:5-6

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing shall doubtless come again with rejoicing bringing his sheaves with him.

This is our Promise. No matter how fruitless our labor seems the Lord promises a joyous harvest. God is pretty much saying it is a done deal. Joy will come in the morning!

Remember that it is our job to be the sower. All the sower has to do is Sow. It is beyond our power to make the seed grow. The one obligation of the sower is to Sow, leaving the Holy Spirit to make well-prepared ground bring the fruit of the seed which we have sown.

We are responsible for sowing not for the growing. This has helped me throughout my years in ministry. It is not my responsibility to make you grow, only to sow the seeds and the rest is up to you and God. This frees me from stress and anxiety I can feel over the sheep in my care.

2. The Seed.

The seed to be sown is described in two ways. The seed is…

A. The word of the Kingdom.

B. The word of God.

All the seed must be sown. The whole counsel of God must be presented. The full Gospel is seed, that is, “the most vital form of the matter”

As to the nature of the seed we sow it is spoken of as being…

* Living and Incorruptible (1 Peter 1:22 – 25)

* Powerful and soul saving (Romans 1:16; 10:17)

* Heavenly and divine and will not return void (Isaiah 55:10 – 11)

* Immutable and everlasting (Isaiah 40:8)

* Engrafted and able to save. (James 1:17, 18. 21)

James 1:21 NKJV

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

As the “Word of God” is the seed and Christ came as the “Word of God” He himself is the seed. The seed we sow, then, is not only from Christ— It is Christ.

“The seed of the Kingdom is Himself the King.” He was consistent in representing Christ as the seed as well as the sower. He preached the Savior, and also was the Savior he preached. The Savior preached the Savior, Himself the Sower and Himself the Seed.

3. The Soil.

In this parable the attention is focused not on the sower or his seed, but on the soil and its reaction to the seed sown. Here we come to the importance of the parable, and importance we can not exaggerate.

This parable deals with the fundamental truth, namely the proclaiming of the Gospel to sinners, and being good soil to receive the seeds from the Word of life. Other parables deal with subsequent truths, and would not be understood without this one first.

Lets understand that these soils are different states of the heart and their reaction to the Gospel. Which one represents you?

Lets take a look at the different soils…

I. The Wayside Hearer .

Or the hearer with the closed mind. This condition of the heart receives the seed by ear, but no life comes from it.  The seed is on the surface but not in.

The people represented here are the hard surfaced souls who are destitute of spiritual perception or understanding. These people may be “religious” and attend regular church but the truth they hear is never received into their hearts.

The truth takes no hold because the heart is like a highway; the surface is hard and nothing can make an impression on it. The seed can not penetrate: therefore the “Birds” which symbolizes the “Enemy” can snatch it way. The truth takes no hold, when the Word is understood and received in faith, it is beyond Satan’s reach.

II. The Stony Ground Hearer.

Or the hearer with and emotional mind. In this instance the seed is received but does not take root. The seed is on and in but not down.

“The root of the matter” is not in them. When temptations and persecution arise, they quickly backslide. Depth of faith, and surrendered character are lacking. Hard heart is connected with superficial faith and character. There is no place to increase or grow. Only surfacy character is present.

The first soil represents those who take “No Hold” and the second soil represents those who take a “Superficial hold.”

“Violent emotion is a sign of shallowness and never lasts; but the tender heart leans to moral thoughtfulness, and where that is, the feeling is permanent.”

The stony place was where there was only a shallow layer of earth beneath which was hard rock. Some churches have too many of these stony hearts. What a blessing they would be, if only they had depth!

III. The Thorny Ground Hearer.

Or the hearer with the wondering mind. Here the seed takes root but bears no fruit. The seed is on, in and down but, does not come up. It is choked and typifies the pre-occupied people. The too busy people. The truth takes hold, but the hold is a battle by three foes or forces. Forces in opposition to the nature of the seed are:

a. The Cares of the World.

Worry, worry, worry over the things of this life. An anxious, unrelaxing attention to the business of this present life chokes the seed. A variety of interests, legitimate in their place, are allowed to dominate one’s life, with your relationship with God as just another department of the already highly departmental life.

Where does the worry stop and the trust in God begin? It has to begin in our minds. Do you really believe God cares for you? Do you really believe God takes care of you? It is a faith walk everyday trusting in Jesus. We have to remember that if His eye is on the sparrow, we know God watches over us. This takes away the worry and anxiety and then the word of God, or the seeds God sows on our hearts will germinate and bring forth much fruit.

Too many Christians allow spiritual impressions to come to nothing because of their submission to influences other than God. They place their attention instead on entertainment and family business, and things that make them feel good, instead of allowing a closer relationship with Jesus. These people, like Martha, “cumbered with much serving,” miss the joy and privilege of sitting at the Master’s feet.

b. The Deceitfulness of Riches.

In itself, riches can be a blessing, but the value of them is decided. Money can buy houses and food, but will it set a man free from Hell, or set him free from pain or sorrow? No! This is false security. We can have riches one day (striving to be rich all our life), and the next day it all be taken.

In the Greek, “Deceitfulness” can be translated as “Delusion.” Having an unhealthy drive to get rich deceives us or deludes us to thinking it is the most important thing. When we think like this, it crowds out what truly is important in this life on earth: Our relationship with God.

It is a hard road for those who trust in riches to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Our riches will fail us. Don’t rely on false security, but trust in the name of the Lord your God!

Psalm 20:7 NKJV

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;

But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

On the road trying to obtain wealth people can reason and think mistakenly. They scheme to do this or that and it falls empty, or corrupts the owner of it.

c. The lust of other things.

A few other words for lust can be:  longing, desire, or pleasures.

In the book of Mark we see his account of this parable. Mark adds; “the lust of other things” as another thorny ground element.

Mark 4:18 – 19 KJV

And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

The lust for other things can be translated as “The pleasures of this life.” Enjoyments, innocent in themselves, in which worldly prosperity enables one to indulge, smother the seed. So much of time is taken up for pleasure that only the dregs or the most worthless part of our energy and reasoning, remain for spiritual things. (Herbert Lockyer)

In the early stages of being a Christian there was growth and the promise of fruitfulness, but other things, or considerations prevented the fruit from ripening.

May the good Lord deliver us from becoming engrossed with earth and earthly things resulting in the neglect of the great realities of the soul and eternity. The rich young ruler wanted all of his possessions and he wanted eternal life. The reality is either Christ or potions, but not both. No man can serve two masters.

We have to be careful between the cares or worries of life, delusion of chasing riches, and having a lust for others things. They all can overtake us if we allow them too. Be aware and alert that you are not allowing them in your life when you are hearing the Word of God. Know the Word! Know God! Further, do everything in your power to protect your relationship with Him!

It is not saying that worrying or wealthy or lustful people are bad, or they don’t bear fruit. What it is saying is those  who get caught up in all these things don’t bring forth the fruit to perfection or completion. The fruit is choked or crowded out by all three of these thorns.

IV. The Good Ground Hearer.

Or the hearer with the stedfast, understanding mind. Those who were open to God and the things of God, and were resolute in keeping it. Because there was deep root in this instance, there was much fruit!

The seed was on, in, down and up! The seed had taken full hold. It had entered the whole soul, filling mind, heart, conscience and will. The Word was received, understood and yielded to, then it produced faith that bound them to Christ, and service to Him that glorified God and benefitted others.

This last soil is really the reverse of all the other soils. The seed takes root, does not quickly lose the moisture which would take away the life producing plant. The good ground hearers were the positive of this pessimistic parable.

Jesus said the good ground hearers produced different degrees of fruitfulness.

*Thirty fold – is lowest degree of fruitfulness

*Sixty fold – is the intermediate degree of fruitfulness

*Hundred fold – is the highest degree

Interesting that the degrees of hearing are three:

  1. The Wayside Hearer
  2. The Stony Ground Hearer
  3. The Thorny Ground Hearer

So is the abundance of fruit is three-fold as well. What amount of increase is your life yielding? Are you giving back thirty fold, a fair return; sixty fold, more heartening to the Sower than the former; or a hundred fold, a striking, wonderful and God-honoring return that is actually the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ?

Than the parable ends with, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” As we read the parable we must strive not only to be fruitful, but to abound in fruitfulness for the glory of God! We must give attention to how important it is to hear the Word of God and receive it for ourselves. Not only hearing and receiving, but understanding and obeying it if we want to be fruitful! How many of you want to produce good fruit?

A parable reveals truth to those accepting and appreciating it — concealing it from those resenting and abusing it.

One more thing about this parable: We are three times blessed, just like the Disciples were, in receiving and understanding and applying it. Let us be people who gladly and readily receive God’s word and His teachings with eager and hungry hearts: 30 fold, 60, and 100 fold, Amen!

Your sister in Christ,

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.KrisBelfils.com

www.HopeFellowshipSpokane.com

www.KrisBelfils.WordPress.com

Sources: Pastor Kris Belfils, All the Parables of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer, and notes from The WayFind Bible NLT.

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God is Bigger Than My Selfishness (20 Things the Selfless Do)

God is Bigger Than My Selfishness (20 Things the Selfless Do)

God is bigger then My Selfishness - 20 Things the Selfless Do BlogBeing Self-absorbed, Feeling sorry for yourself, only thinking about yourself, maybe even being a narcissist. Do these words describe you? In today’s society people have grown very selfish. Everyone is thinking about themselves and their own personal agenda. Not many people are givers and see a bigger world than their own.

Selfish: adjective, “devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others, characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself.”

Lately, I have come across a lot of selfish people. Selfish people are usually unhappy. They are always talking about themselves, even when someone else shares a problem or pain, a selfish person will always make the conversation go back to themselves. Very seldom do they see the other person’s needs or point of view, only their own. Selfishness grieves God and it blocks growth in your life.

Everybody is bound to be selfish from time to time. Although many elements of our society may encourage it, selfishness just hurts other people, sometimes at little to no personal gain. A selfish person also ends up losing friends or loved ones because no matter how charming or interesting a selfish person may be, a relationship with a selfish person is hard to maintain. A truly selfish person would never consider the possibility that they are selfish. Many think selfishness and pride are good things, and that putting the needs of others above your own is for suckers. If you’re worried that you’re too selfish and want to be on the path to gratitude and humility, then let’s look at what the selfless do, and the Word of God, and learn from them.

Selfless: “having little or no concern for oneself, especially with regard to fame, position, money, etc.; unselfish.”

20 Things the Selfless Do

1. Selfless people put the other person’s need above their own.

Jesus is the best example of a selfless person. He was sent to earth to save the world from eternal damnation. He wasn’t about His own agenda, but His Father’s. He truly saw the bigger picture. It wasn’t about Him, but about the world, about souls. About people who were lost.

Philippians 2:4 ESV
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Proverbs 3:27-28 ESV
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.

Proverbs 19:17 ESV
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

Far too often selfish people only see their wants and seldom see the needs of others. “I want this!” or “I want to become that!” When you become selfless and reach out to those in need, it is a good feeling.

Matthew 25:37- 40 NIV
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

I was at an outside restaurant the other day wanting some lunch because I was really hungry. I went to see if they would take a debit card for payment because I only had $2.00 cash on me. As I walked away when I saw the sign that read, “Cash only: No Debit or Credit cards,” I saw a homeless couple that attends our church from time to time. I walked over to say, “Hi.” The woman said she was really hungry. I opened my purse and pulled out my wallet and gave them all the cash I had not knowing if they would use the money for food or alcohol or drugs. When I got in my care to drive away I saw the woman in my rearview mirror getting up and walking to order food with the little money I gave her. The feeling of helping someone in need far outweighed the hunger pains I was feeling in my stomach. It was the right thing to do.

2. Selfless people acknowledge others and find out more about them.

One of the most valuable things you can do for someone is acknowledge their existence. Some people feel no one sees them in a crowded room. I have found that acknowledging people, even when I am in a hurry or don’t want to, will brighten someone’s day. Often it leads to a conversation. Ask them questions about themselves if you don’t know how to start the conversation. Asking questions about the other person will open them up and you will find out more about them. Anyone can tell others about themselves. But asking questions about them or their life shows you are interested in them. Listen more and talk less. It will help when you are trying to overcome selfishness.

2 Peter 1:5-7 ESV
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

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

3. Selfless people allow God to increase in their life and they decrease.

John 3:30 Amplified Bible
He must increase, but I must decrease. [He must grow more prominent; I must grow less so.]

John the Baptist knew his place when it came to Jesus. John was the forerunner. He had his own disciples and followers, yet John knew his place was to prepare the way of Christ and not build his own kingdom.

God needs to be the center of your life. We follow Him, He doesn’t follow us. Too much of self and not enough of God is a bad thing. It leads to a life of misery and sin. It leads to a wrong path and bad consequences. Aside from all that, who wouldn’t want more of God in their life? He is a good God. I encourage you to develop a craving for God and the things of God. In order to get more of Jesus, you have to give Him more of yourself!

Proverbs 14:14 ESV
The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.

When we decrease, we are nicer to people and value what God values. When we decrease God fills us up with more of His love, peace, joy, and all the fruit of His Spirit. Those are good fruit for people to pic!

4. Selfless people put themselves in the other person’s shoes.

Walking a mile in another man’s shoes can change your life for eternity. Of course, you won’t be able to actually do this, but you can put in the effort into thinking about the other people around you and considering how they might be feeling in any given situation.

Consider how your mother, your friend, your boss, or a random person on the street may be feeling before you take action, and you may find that the world isn’t as clean cut as you thought it was. The more you practice empathy and wondering what other people are going through, the sooner you’ll be able to give up your selfishness.

For example, before you start yelling at your waitress for giving you the wrong order, think about how she might be feeling. She might be tired from being on her feet for ten hours in a row, overwhelmed from having to work too many tables, or just feeling sad about something else; is it really necessary for you to make her feel terrible just to get what you want?

Romans 12:15
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

1 Cor. 12:25-26
… so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Gal. 6:2
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

1 Pet. 3:8
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

5. Selfless people love their neighbor as themselves.

You can spend so much time thinking about your needs and desires and planning how to get them all met. You plan your day or your future. You are so self-absorbed. Roll that energy and effort onto others. With the same intensity you have for yourself have an intense love for others, even your enemies. This will bring freedom and happiness to your life.

Mark 12:30 – 31 NKJV
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.

First we love the Lord with everything inside of us, and then we love others as we love ourselves. Do you do this or are you more in love with yourself than God or others? Selfless people are exactly that “less of self.” Selfish people are full of self. You choose?

6. Selfless people wait to speak and don’t interrupt others when they are talking.

Let them finish their sentence. Remember that your points can always wait. If it’s urgent (like if you have to leave) say “excuse me”. Selfish people often think that what they have to say is so important, and that what others have to say is so unimportant, that they can just jump in with their opinions at any time. Well, this is not the case. In fact, your opinion will be much better received if you wait your turn. Furthermore, you may change your opinion if you actually take the time to hear people out.

James 1:19 Amplified Bible
Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.

I have to say this is one my my pet peeves. When I am talking, it is most irritating when someone interrupts me and talks about themselves. It leaves the listener feeling sick to their stomach when they keep interrupting others and inserting things about their own life. This leads to my next point…

7. Selfless people take the time to really listen to others.

Do you listen to people when they talk to you? I mean, do you really listen? While they are talking are you thinking of something to say in response? Really listening to others is so important in building relationships. No one likes a one sided relationship where one does all the talking and never listens to the other.

Selfish people are notoriously bad listeners. This is because they are too busy talking about their own struggles, their own problems, and their own setbacks to take the time to listen to what their friends are saying. If you’re the kind of person who picks up the phone, talks at someone for half an hour, and then says goodbye, then you’re not taking the time to listen to what other people are telling you.

Any conversation should have about a 50/50 exchange of ideas, and if you’re monopolizing every conversation you have, then you’ve got to work on honing those listening skills the next time you talk to people.

Selfish people don’t care about other people, which is why they don’t really take the time to listen to them. Let’s read that same verse we did for point 6 here:

James 1:19
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

Listen. Wait. Respond.
How many of our conflicts would dissolve or never even materialize if we:
▪ Listened to really understand a person’s concern or complaint,
▪ Waited… till our typically wrong initial impulse passed, till we’ve prayed, till we’ve asked clarifying questions,
▪ And then responded with patience, graciousness, honesty, clarity, and, if possible, brevity?

8. Selfless people easily give compliments to others.

Don’t just go on about how great you are. Take the time to let people know how great they are, whether you’re talking about their fashion sense, their personalities, or great decisions they’ve recently made. Or just compliment a perfect stranger if you’re waiting in line and like the stranger’s coat. Don’t give phony compliments just to suck up to people; give compliments because they really deserve them.

Proverbs 12:25
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.

Proverbs 15:23
A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word!

We have good words inside of us waiting to come out to encourage others. When you see someone doing good, or dressed nice, or handling a situation well, let them know. It will encourage them to keep on keeping on.

I remember being a young mother with my oldest daughter. We were in a grocery store at the check out line and she was upset over something. I kneeled down to her level (she was around 2) and explained what was going on. She understood and wasn’t upset anymore. Then I stood up and paid the cashier. Upon leaving the line an older gentleman stopped me and complimented me on how I treated my daughter. He said most mothers would smack them around or yell at them to stop their bad behavior but that I didn’t. It was nice to hear. It made me think I wasn’t a bad mother after all. (you know how young mothers feel when they have never done it before)

9. Selfless people practice putting themselves last.

If you’re a selfish person, then chances are you’re always looking for #1, well, first. You’ve got to change that as soon as you can if you want to start living a life filled with joy and free of selfishness. The next time you’re doing something, whether you’re in line at a buffet or waiting for your seat on the bus, stop and let the other people have what they want first, whether it’s food, comfort, or ease. Don’t be the person who always thinks me, me, me and has to get everything first; remember that other people are every bit as special as you are, and that other people deserve to get what they want, too.

Make a goal of putting yourself last in at least three situations this week. See how much better you feel when you’re not constantly thinking about how you can benefit at any given time.

Of course, once you level out, you shouldn’t always put yourself last or you may find yourself in a situation where people are taking advantage of you. But it’s good practice to do this if you’re absolutely always putting yourself first right now.

Matthew 20:16 NKJV
So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.

It’s okay if you are not first, or have the best seat. Find a place within yourself to be okay with it. Realize you are first with God. You are His favorite, just like everyone else is. Rest in God and His goodness that He won’t allow you to miss out on anything you need or should have. If you are to have it, it will come about at the right time or in due season.

10. Selfless people remember they are not more important than other people.

Selfish people are constantly thinking that they are the center of the universe and that the world should revolve around them. Well, you need to drop that thought like a bad habit. Whether you’re Madonna or Donna the hairdresser, you should think of yourself as the same as everyone else, not as somehow better because you’ve got more money, more looks, or more talent than the person standing next to you.

Practice being humble and modest. The world is a huge and absolutely amazing place, and you are just one tiny part of it. Don’t think that you somehow deserve more than other people because you are “you.

Feeling you are more important than others is a sign you are competitive. No one is better or worse than you. We are all the same: Humans.

Gal. 3:28 NKJV
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Comparing our growth with others can be intimidating. No one is better than you, but they may have experienced more or accomplished more than you have. Learn from these people and don’t compare yourself to them. Don’t be intimidated by your lack of knowledge. Be teachable and a forever student in life. You will grow if you decide to do this. Surround yourself with people who can take you higher in your walk with God, in your abilities, and in your character. If you surround yourself with people who don’t want to grow, or don’t want to be close to God, it will affect you. Always be striving to grow more and complain less.

11. Selfless people enjoy giving the spotlight to others.

You don’t always have to be the center of every party, or every conversation. Selfless people enjoy allowing others to speak and are truly interested in in them.

I have a friend who is always talking or talks over others when others are sharing their needs, or telling a story, or expressing something funny. I watch the other people when my friend starts talking over them and they shrink back and stop talking. When my friend talks it inevitably changes the topic and others never get truly heard. I feel for the others and try to get the conversation back onto what they were talking about. It is extremely hard to have a relationship with selfish people who always have to be in the spotlight.

Selfish people cringe when someone else goes in the spotlight because they always want it for themselves. Well, if you want to stop being selfish, then you have to not only give up the spotlight, but you have to enjoy letting other people take it. Stop trying to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral and let other brides have their time in the spotlight. Be proud of other people for achieving things instead of wishing it was you.

Romans 12:1
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

We should be willing to raise others up and allow them to shine for God’s glory. I enjoy raising up my leadership staff and allowing them to preach or teach or, give them public compliments. It is good for the congregation to know and for that individual to publicly be raised up.

12. Selfless people keep in touch with friends, family, and relatives.

No one is an island. We all need each other. It is good to keep in touch with the people in your life. Take the time to be with family and friends. Relationships take time. They are worth it.

Selfish people find it easy to lose touch with people because they know that they will always come back to them. Don’t think that your time is so important that you can’t call your own grandmother or spend your lunch hour with a friend and then expect other people to be at your beck and call when you do need them. Give people the basic consideration of wanting to know how they’re doing just because.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

13. Selfless people show an interest in others.

Listening to people is a great way to show interest in them. Another thing you can do is to ask people questions, from their opinions on the local news to their experiences as children. You don’t have to interrogate them to show a casual interest in them as human beings, and to let them see that you really do care what they think about or what they’re struggling with. When people talk, don’t just nod and wait your turn to talk, but slow down and ask them questions if they’re talking about something that they feel passionate about.

You can show an interest in people without overwhelming them. The next time you talk to someone, set out to talk 20% less and to ask a few more questions than you normally would and see how it makes you feel.

14. Selfless people help people they know during their time of need.

When your friends, family, or even your neighbors are struggling, you should be there for them. Maybe your co-worker has had a death in the family, or your neighbor has been sick for months; take the time to make them a home-cooked meal, call them, or give them a card and ask how you can help.

People may be reluctant to say that they need help even if they obviously do. It’s up to you to figure out when you can really help without being intrusive.

Hebrews 13:16 ESV
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Galatians 6:2 ESV
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

15. Selfless people know when to stop talking about themselves.

Selfish people go on and on and on about their needs, their struggles, and their desires. The next time you have a conversation with a friend, do a personal recap afterwards and see what percentage you spent talking all about you, you, you. If you feel like everything you said was about yourself instead of the world around you and that your friend hardly got a word in edgewise, then it’s time to turn that behavior around.

It’s okay to ask for advice, talk about your day, and mention your wants within a reasonable realm, but it’s not okay if you’re known to be the person who can’t see past herself in any social situation. For one thing, if you have a reputation for only talking about yourself, people will get the message and won’t want to hang out with you.

Proverbs 10:19 ESV
When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

Proverbs 17:28 ESV
Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

Proverbs 21:23 ESV
Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

Honestly it is down right rude to always be talking about yourself instead of seeing and listening to other people and their needs and concerns.

16. Selfless people learn to compromise.

If you want to stop being selfish, then you’ve got to learn to compromise. This means seeing that it’s better to be happy than to get what you want, that other people have needs too, and that you can’t always get what you want. You don’t want to have a reputation for being so stubborn that people wouldn’t even think about approaching you with a difficult situation. Learn to listen to people, to weigh the pros and cons of any situation, and to be able to see the situation from another person’s perspective.

Don’t focus blindly on getting your way. Focus on understanding the situation from both sides. You don’t always have to be right or get your way.

Romans 12:18 ESV
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

John 13:34 ESV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

1 Cor. 13:4 – 8a NKJV
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.

When you truly love someone you will compromise to make your relationship work. Marriages end in divorce all because the couple was not willing to compromise. Selfish people will put being right or their own needs above the other and compromise never happens. Don’t let this be you. Learn how to compromise. This is a quality of the selfless.

17. Selfless people learn how to say, “Thank you.”

Selfish people think they deserve the best treatment and deserve to be spoiled, and that’s just not the case. If someone does something nice for you, whether they are complimenting you or giving you a ride to class, you should be grateful and thank them for their actions instead of just acting like it’s perfectly normal that they want to do favors for you. Don’t expect kindness or understanding and be grateful when it comes your way.

Selfish people think they “deserve” the best treatment at all times. It’s time to stop and think about all of the people who have really made your life better. It is not too late to thank them. I believe God has placed them in your life to be a blessing. We should be quick to thank others for their kindness, acceptance, and love.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Ephesians 1:16
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

18. Selfless people have learned to give up control.

Selfish people think that they have to choose every movie, plan every vacation, and get their way in every school or work-related project. Well, it’s time to take a step back and to let some other people do some of the deciding. Sure, it may be scary to go to that new Thai place instead of your favorite usual Italian restaurant, and sure, you may not like letting Mary have so much control over your latest report; but you’ve got to trust that other people know what they’re doing and to let them get their way, too.

Giving up control can help you relieve stress and be happier, too. Think about how much easier your life will be if you’re not obsessing over planning every little thing so that it goes your way.

Psalm 46:10 GW
Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am God. I rule the nations. I rule the earth.

Every day, you have to decide who’s going to be in control of your life — you or God. Letting your spouse or friend decide something is easy when you place your trust in God. You can trust God that the decision someone else makes that affects you will work out for your good. You honor God and others when you give up your control. You might find out you even like it.

19. Selfless people spend time with people who are not selfish.

Join others who are kind and reciprocate kindness. Being with other selfish people, will not help you become a better person. We are very much defined by the company we keep. If you spend all of your time with other people who only care about themselves, then you won’t be a very considerate person. But if you spend time around an inspiring, giving person, you will be inspired to act in a less selfish way.

I am sure you can think of someone who is selfless in your life. You might have thought, “I wish I was more like them.” You can. The more you hang around the selfless, the more it rubs off on you. You are the company you keep.

Proverbs 13:20 GNT
Keep company with the wise and you will become wise. If you make friends with stupid people, you will be ruined.

1 Corinthians 15:33 ESV
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.

2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

20. Selfless people have a heart of gratitude.

Make a habit of writing down all of the things you’re grateful for every Sunday or at least once a week. Take the time to think of each and every individual thing that makes your life really great, and don’t spend all your time focusing on the things you don’t have, or the things you wish you had, or all of the “If only” chants that can ruin your day and your life. Think of things that are going well for you, from your health to your plethora of friends, and feel happy about what you’ve got.

Selfish people are never satisfied and always want more, more, more. If you want to stop being selfish, you have to feel like you already have enough amazing things in your life. Any additional joys or gifts should come as a bonus.

Researchers studied the differences that occurs when people focus on their burdens, or themselves, versus focusing on what they’re grateful for. Simply acknowledging a few things you feel grateful for each day is a powerful way to create change. In fact, gratitude not only impacts your psychological health, it can also affect your physical health.

-People who feel gratitude don’t get sick as often as others.
-Gratitude leads to more positive emotions.
-Gratitude improves social lives.

Psalm 118:24
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Acts 24:3 ESV
In every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude.

God is bigger than your selfishness. He wants you to let go of self and cling to Him. We can trust Him with everything.

If you realize you are selfish, now is the time for change. Do some of or all of the selfless things on this list every week. Ask Jesus to be more like him. He moved with compassion and cared about others. He laid down His life for you. That is the ultimate selfless act anyone could do.

Your sister in Christ,

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.KrisBelfils.com
www.HopeFellowshipSpokane.com
www.KrisBelfils.Wordpress.com

Sources: Pastor Kris Belfils and http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Being-Selfish