Basketball, Humility and A Selfish Heart

“Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy… (Lk 12:1). 

As a basketball coach I would teach my players that it was imperative they have a wide base while guarding the opposing player. Their posture was imperative to their success as a defender. The wrong positioning would set them up for sure defeat as the offensive player would drive past them, straight to the basket.
I had this problem while playing basketball in Israel years ago. There was a girl I was defending that was one step quicker than me. It was discouraging and difficult for me to guard her because she was always driving past me into the lane for a score. In all my training and preparation I knew that I could have trained better defensively. I knew deep down that I didn’t focus on it as much as I could have.
We too have an enemy that we need to guard against. It is the enemy that rages war in our very own hearts. It is the enemy of selfishness. Jesus tells us to be on our guard. There is a certain posture that we must take as Christians if we’re going to defeat the war within our own hearts. It is the posture of humility. Only with heads bowed low to God and hearts positioned in submission to the Father can we defeat selfishness in our hearts.
I have often found myself annoyed by people. Even the ones that I say I love the most. Sometimes their presence in my life causes an inconvenience in mine due to the selfishness in my own heart that just wants to do what I want to do. Unfortunately, the selfish heart is positioned towards pushing people out because they are their most important person, their time is their time and their energy is best spent on themselves.
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A hypocrite is quite simply someone who says, “I love you,” but chooses their own heart first. They are the type of person who wishes you would go away so they can get the desires of their own heart. I’m only talking about what I see in my own heart. The Scriptures remind us that the greatest example of love is to “lay our life down for someone else.”
At least for me, I don’t think I have any idea what this really means in praxis. Even while I’m with my handsome three-year-old nephew my heart is racing with thoughts of how I can protect my own time and things I want to do. We would all be wise to look deep into our own hearts to see what God might show us when we feel annoyed by the presence of others. You cannot hide a selfish heart.
When God shows you your selfish heart, make a different choice. Choose to walk in repentance and humility. This could look as simple as letting go of the place you wanted to eat to let someone else choose, going for a walk with others when you really wanted to just stay in, taking your son, daughter, niece, or nephew outside to play when you’d really rather just sit in front of the TV or veg out on Facebook.
This life we have is precious. The people in it are our most precious possessions. The problem I see in my own heart is that my most treasured possession is not them, but me. I see a heart that thinks often about protecting its own wants and desires. I see a heart that is guarding the wrong things. Oh Lord, forgive me. When we guard our hearts against selfishness and open it to others we can win the war that rages within our own hearts. Humility is the key.
Father, I see selfishness in my heart. This is hypocrisy, because one of the greatest positions I’m supposed to be in is one of humility, to consider others better than myself and to lay down my for another. Lord, I know I have a long way to go, but I want to go there with you. I want to lay down my own selfish heart to walk freely in your grace. Lord, I posture my heart towards you today in humility and ask for you to fill my life, in Jesus name, Amen!

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