By David Stahl

Karen and I (and even Connie and Joshua) like Boxers as pets.  Over the years we have had many boxers.  When we moved to Germany in 1996 we brought two dogs:  one named “Rocky” half Cocker Spaniel and Lhasoapso and the other of course a Boxer name “Annie.”  Both were great dogs and we enjoyed their company and affection, but over the seven years we lived in Germany Annie got cancer twice and had to have surgery.  Both times she beat the cancer, but the third time it popped out on her it took her life.  When we returned home from Germany we got another boxer named “Grimme More Bacon” or “Grimme” for short.  And he too got cancer and it took his life, but when both dogs died I cried alike a baby.  When my dad (2010) and  mom (2014) died I cried.  Any time someone we know dies especially if we are close to them like our parents (and that is understandable because we will miss them) or we lose something we cry.  Now do not get me wrong here I am not saying we should not cry when our parents or our favorite animal dies, but we must recognize the source of our sorrow if we are to get over the loss. At the center of our tears is the realization of the loss we will experience in the passing away of our family and friends.  The sorrow and tears are not based in anything, but our selfishness.  Yes I loved my father very much, but he was an extremely sick man living a full life laying his life down for his family and seeing action in three wars. What else could anyone ask of a man?  And my mom.  Oh how I love my mom who was bedridden, had Alzheimer’s, and a host of other medical problems: gave birth to six children (had 11 pregnancies in all), cooked and cleaned, cared for her husband and children what more could you ask of a woman?  Yet my dad, mom, even my dogs died and I cried because of the loss I had experience.  My tears were not about their death, but about what I was going to lose in those relationships.  Now do not say that Dave Stahl how heartless can a man be, because this is true of us all. At the heart of all of our tears believe it or not is our selfishness. As a matter of fact it is our self-centerness that is at the center of our grief.  And the sooner we realize this the sooner we will be able to prevent our emotions from taking over our thought life and our heart.  The true Christian battle is not the devil (he is defeated my mom would not even call his name in any form) or our sin (Jesus died for that), but it is our thought life that must be aligned with what God has said about us and what He wants for our lives.  In  2 Corinthians Paul tells the Church at Corinth and us, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  (2 Corinthians 5:17) God says we are, “a new creature old things are passed away; behold (or look at this) all things are become new” and we think “who me?”  Yes you!  Our salvation is not based on our good works or religious performance, but on what Christ has done for us on the cross.  We must allow the Holy Spirit to open up our understanding to the truth about us and what Jesus did for us.  My friend the battle is between our mind and our heart.  In that we come to realize what Jesus did on the cross for us and that we really believe it.  So too the sooner we realize the center of all of our grief is our self-centeredness the sooner we will be happy when the so called bad things that happen in our lives come our way.  Often our inability to recognize it is our emotions and feelings (our selfishness) that are deceiving us and is based on our lack of judgment. Jesus again and again all throughout the Gospels tells us to judge. Judgment must be a part of our Christian walk if not then we will not have the ability to separate ourselves from things that are not godly, things that are unholy, and things are unrighteous.  In John Jesus tells us to, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”  (John 7:24)  “Judge not according to the appearance” to what we think or feel (again our emotions and feelings), but “judge righteous judgment.”  Well how can we do this?  First we must have a sense of righteousness within us and God must be able to put it there. Then we must exercise our ability to look at a situations and even certain people (their motives and intentions) and align it up with the word (both written and spoken to us)  of God. Did you know there are some people you cannot be around and still serve God?  Did you know there are some places you cannot go and still be called a Christian?  There are some things and people you cannot stand for and be called a Child of God? Most Christians do not know this and are deceived and get over in many areas that get them off track in God.  In Matthew Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.3  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?5  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”  (Matthew 7:1-5)  Many Christians would say, aha see Jesus said not to judge so they stop reading and miss the message Jesus was sharing while running their lives into a deep ditch because of their lack of discernment and inability to judge . We must continue reading to find the message.  Jesus was saying take heed to how you judge not what you judge.  In Christ it does not matter what we do for God that counts, but what matters is HOW we do it.  Do we do things for the right reason, with the right motives, and with the right intentions? How do we judge?  Do we have the right heart condition to judge righteous judgment or are we judging things after the flesh? If we have the right heart condition then we will easily be able to see the speck in our brother’s eye because we have allowed God to remove the beam from ours. Unless we allow God to judge and deal in our lives in our lives we will never be able to judge righteous judgment.  And when we have under gone God’s dealings and judgments to varying degrees we will be able to see even the selfishness in our heart that causes all of the grief in our lives. In the Proverbs we read, “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.’  (Proverbs 13:10)  The word “pride” here talks about our selfishness, self-centeredness, and self-seeking.  It is all of that selfishness that causes “contention” or Strong’s #4683, all of our strife, debate, and self exaltation.  Jesus was telling us to judge righteously and when we can do this our self will be put to death. We will have allowed God to give our selfish nature and character a death blow.  Once our self is put to death we then will be able to see what is right and then be able to do the right thing.  Paul knew where the battle raged,  “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”  (Romans 7:18)  Paul knew it was in our flesh (our emotions, the soulish man. our feelings, our selfishness, etc) where nothing good dwells, not our spirit because if we are a Christian the Holy Spirit dwells within, believe it or not.     

         I do not know about you, but the older I get the more selfish I seem to become.  The older I get the less grace I seem to give other people who mistreat or wrong me.  The older I get the more I seem to be less tolerant I seem to be with people who do not agree with me.  All this really means is the older I get the more selfish I am becoming and the more I need God to work the more in my life and kill my flesh.  True happiness is not found in material things, a sense of well being and good health, popularity, and the list goes on, but true happiness is only found when we can abandon ourselves in God’s all knowing hands where no selfishness can exist.