“...there are women who have a personality that avoids conflict or confrontation by denying themselves. On the surface they seem to have a good relationship, but the husband complains that she does not seem to be happy. That is his only complaint. The wife will say ‘We have a great relationship, except I am so depressed.’”Then the author goes on and talks about the problem being that she is denying herself. Our current post-modern culture embraces this line of thinking.
The Bible has a different standard regarding self denial. Jesus spoke very clearly.
(Luke 9:23 KJV) And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.Since Jesus said it, as Christians we start by accepting this as a truth. There is another truth which Paul gets into defining love in Philippians 2 where he talks about love as an attitude that does what is best for the other person. I will use the NASB since it is much more clear to me.
(Philippians 2:3-4 NASB) Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.It might seem that on the surface these are the same, but not necessarily. Jesus is talking about our response to God. Paul is talking about how we relate to other people. Many times when we take statements which are designed to explain our relationship with God and we apply them to our relationships with people, we run into major problems.
For instance, when Jesus speaks he is saying that we are saying “no” to ourselves so we can say “yes” to God. This is always right. This is always appropriate.
Paul’s guidance gets a little more tricky. He is talking about us denying ourselves to do what is right for the other person. You are looking after their interests. This does not mean doing it their way. It does not mean being manipulated. Doing what is right for the other person may sometimes mean saying “yes” to yourself and saying “no” to them. Since we are dealing with people it is not right that they always get their way. It is not healthy for them to be around people who always let them have what they want. I would stress that the verses in Philippians don't say give people what they want, but give them what they need. There is a big difference there.
The point that the Bible is making is that putting the other person first can be healthy and fulfilling. I can understand that a garden variety pagan might think it is wrong, but we march to a different drummer. I vote for the Jesus way. How about you?
homo unius libri
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Comments are welcome. Feel free to agree or disagree but keep it clean, courteous and short. I heard some shorthand on a podcast: TLDR, Too long, didn't read.