Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…The ever present thief.

Americans spend a lot of money making sure they don’t get robbed, Last year we spent an estimated 20.64 Billion dollars to keep our homes safe from thieves. That doesn’t include the astronomically higher amount spent by businesses across the land to keep their assets safe. We put up security cameras, motion detectors, window and door alarms, and pay monthly fees to services to monitor all of it while we sleep or are away from our homes. I can pull out my cell phone anywhere on the planet and see who is at my front door, in my back yard, or anywhere else on my property in real time. These measures are just to keep our homes safe from intrusion. Additionally, we use ever changing passwords and encryption so that we can do our banking, keep up with our investments, and check our e-mail on the go. We utilize fingerprint and facial recognition to keep our phones and other devices secure from those who would seek to steal our information, and we purchase wallets made of special materials to keep the RFID chips embedded in our bank cards secure. These are just a few of the steps we take to keep ourselves from being stolen from. Yet, we do little to keep ourselves secure from the most prominent thief that exists.

The most successful thief is ever present. Always there, always ready to steal from us. We recognize it when it has been successful, but it is so good at its craft that we are often inept to catch it before it has met its goal. If only there were some system that could be put in place, some measure that could be taken to keep us safe.

So what is this thief I speak of? What can literally steal our peace, our friendships, our families, our marriages? What is this thief’s name that is capable of causing us to lose our very lives? Selfishness. Selfishness will cause us to lose all of the things I listed and more, those were just some of the most important I could think of.

Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes chapter four how selfishness steals contentment from people. He saw that even “good people” are affected by it. They might be hardworking productive members of society, but if they are always working to obtain more, they are never able to be content and enjoy what they have. Selfishness has stolen their joy, peace, rest and contentment.

Paul wrote about selfishness in several of his letters. To the Corinthians, Galatians and Philippians he wrote of his concern that selfishness might be stealing from them. He tried to help them understand that most concerning of all, selfishness, had the potential to steal even their good relationship with Jesus. To the Philippians he offered the antidote to this ever present thief. In chapter two of his letter to them he wrote saying; Does your life in Christ give you strength? Does his love comfort you? Do we share together in the spirit? Do you have mercy and kindness? If so, make me very happy by having the same thoughts, sharing the same love, and having one mind and purpose. When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. … (NCV)

Humility and selflessness are the strongest security systems available and are guaranteed to be 100 percent effective against this terrible thief. Mathew 16:24-26 records; Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? Jesus was clear, selfishness, wanting what we want and being willing to do what is necessary to have it, will even steal our ability to have eternal security with God. He said that if we desire a healthy relationship with Him, we have to deny ourselves. That is the definition of selflessness which is the only security measure 100% effective at protecting ourselves from selfishness.

As to the other things that can be stolen, think of the last time you had a poor interaction with your spouse, your family or friends. Were you putting them first? Were you as Paul instructed in Romans 12:10 preferring them? Or is it more likely that you had a preferred outcome and you were willing to selfishly sacrifice peace in the relationship in order to have what you wanted? Selfishness has stolen from all of us and will continue to steal from you until you activate the only effective firewall, selflessness. And a relationship with Jesus is the only way to have access to an ample supply of it. James 4:7, &10 says; Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Selfishness seeks to take everything, on the other hand the selflessness that results from a growing life in Christ’s love for us gives and gives and gives. It is only when we begin to understand what it means to give our life away to Him that we begin to experience the abundant life He replaces it with. Want to put a stop to the most prolific thief in history? Press into Jesus and enjoy the experience as His selflessness flows through you.

So now, practicing selflessness and stopping the thief in his tracks…Go be awesome!