The Culture of Extreme Selfishness (Python Series, Part 3 of 4)
As we were on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who was possessed by a spirit of divination... she brought her owners much gain by her fortunetelling. She kept following Paul and [the rest of] us, shouting loudly... she did this for many days (Acts 16:16-18 AMP).
Welcome back! Today we look into, "The Culture of Extreme Selfishness." I link this to my series on Divination and the Python Spirit because it is intertwined. You will see why. Chapter 16 of the book of Acts tells us how the servant girl who hosted the Python, earned much money for her owners. However, Paul ruined their lucrative little trade: "Then Paul, being sorely annoyedand worn out, turned and said to the spirit within her, I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her! And it came out that very moment" (Acts 16:18 AMP).
What to do when your finances get Hit
The repercussions of this incident were huge, because at the very heart of it, money was involved! Verse 19 in the Voice Translation says, "...her owners realised she would be worthlessnow as a fortune-teller." And the Message Bible says, "When her owners saw that their lucrative little business was suddenly bankrupt, they went after Paul and Silas, roughed them up..."
This spirit not only wants to divert our attention from prayer, it also wants to divert our funds, from fulfilling God plans. When you live by faith as I have for many years, you'll discover, that when the unity goes, so will your income! Living by faith means you can't live in the flesh. You don't get away with it. And you have to keep the unity at all costs otherwise the devil gets in. As much as divination and the spirit of python want to annoy and ware us out, it wants to influence our income. If it can bankrupt us by using greed to siphon-off resources, then we become ineffective and non-productive. Ministries everywhere including Christian businesses - dedicated to the work of God - can suddenly start hemorrhaging money, usually miss-management and greed are to blame: "You can be sure of this: No one will have a place in the kingdom of Christ and of God who... is greedy. Anyone who is greedy is serving a false god(Ephesians 5:5 NCV). The Voice Translation says it this way, "greed... is just a form of idolatry."
Only when Paul took authority, did he put a stop to this spirit. And by experience, I can tell you, that divination and the spirit of python are after your finances. If you want your finances to be free from its control, then you must take authority. To divert your funds it has to get you to mismanage them, where you or your people spend money on the wrong things.
God has ordained good works for us to do. But if the money dries up, your hands are tied. You can't move left or right [and frustration sets in]. For example, people who where once reliable and generous in their giving, start being more sensitive to their own ends, than the Spirit of God. They switch allegiance and develop urgent agendas of their own. Yielding to the extreme selfishness of this culture, which is totally self-serving in nature. The spirit of this culture is narcissism and has successfully infiltrated the Church.
Narcissus is a fictional character from history who fell in love with himself. There are variations on this particular myth, but at it's core is SELF-WORSHIP!
Narcissus was "a beautiful youth in Greek mythology who pined away for love of his own reflection" (Merriam-Webster).So when someone is described as narcissistic, it refers to their self-absorbed personality traits and excessively self-centred behaviour.
"Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)" is a disorder in which a person isexcessively preoccupied with personal adequacy and was first recognised in 1968 but was historically seen as megalomania or severe egocentrism. "People who are diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder are characterised byexaggerated feelings of self-importance. They have a sense of entitlement and demonstrate grandiosity in their beliefs and behaviour. They have a strong need for admiration, but lack feelings of empathy" (taken in-part from Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_personality_disorder).
Love Reaches into the Culture
I think that most people have narcissistic tendencies, in one way or another. Basically the definition above describes the fallen nature and the fruits of the flesh. Which is the opposite to divine nature and the fruits of the Spirit. Love represents the divine nature. The fallen nature is always self-serving and self-seeking. Only as we walk by the Spirit and cultivate our love walk with the fruits of the Spirit, can we avoid this narcissistic manifestation in our own lives. "Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking... the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity... (Romans 12:1-2 MSG).
In our culture today, narcissism is all around us - in the music, the arts and all other forms of entertainment. It is in the schools and education. In fact narcissism is generally celebrated and encouraged. However, as believers, scripture separates us from the culture. We are in the culture. We even reach into the culture. But we are not of the culture: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world..." (Romans 12:2 NIV) "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (John 17:16 KJV). Our behaviour must emulate and imitate Christ, Who revealed Himself to us as a "servant King." He came to serve and not to be served, although He was King of kings and Lord of lords! We too have position and possession [in Christ] yet we must serve and love the people of this culture - without loving the culture!
Are your Finances under Attack?
If you are looking to do anything significant for God, then be prepared for spiritual attack. Understand that your money and resources - will suffer spiritual attack - probably more than any other area. Narcism is a great influence on our today's culture today [the Church is not immune] and wants people to indulge in self-love in a wrong way. So how do we recognise when narcissism has crept in? It will manifest in the people! Those who were once reliable to give and tithe are suddenly overwhelmed by their own needs and full of excuses.
Don't start complaining and becoming weary with your people. Recognise the spiritual warfare for what it is, and take the fight to the devil - not your people! ["The goodness of God that leads men to repentance" Romans 2:4 KJV]. See the strangle-hold on your finances: your church, business or family and take authority over it. If you don't you'll become weary and frustrated. You'll start making poor decisions that will discredit you and things will get messy!When selfishness suddenly grips all your people at once - the devil in your midst!Recognise him and cast him out. Keep the unity and the bond of peace, and take the battle to the enemy, not each other.
Dear friend, if you have been struggling with your finances in this season, and many have, recognise divination and the spirit of python. Cast it out of your affairs - just like Paul cast it out of the servant girl. Leaders, you need to cast it out of your people. This spirit has no jurisdiction - unless you give it some - so rise up and stop brooding over your losses. Stand up and proclaim liberty over yourself, your people and your finances. Straight away, you'll begin to see change. Even if things get worse before they get better - change will happen. Speak those things that aren't as though they were and start-giving God high praises [in advance] regardless of your circumstances, like Paul and Silas and take courage as chains supernaturally begin coming off. You and your people will be free again.
Leaders Gather your People
Greed and selfishness scatter the people. Leaders gather your people together. Get them back into a place of unity. And bring them to a place of repentance if necessary and help them overcome individually, so that you can overcome corporately. Pray with a united front and take authority over divination and the spirit of python. And don't be intimidated by all the noise it wants to make. Go right ahead and do what God's instructing you to do, because you have this assurance: "No weapon that can hurt you has ever been forged. Any accuser who takes you to court will be dismissed as a liar. This is what God's servants can expect. I'll see to it that everything works out for the best. God's Decree" (Isaiah 54:17 MSG).
A Dramatic Turn of Events
We know that divination and the spirit of python tried for many days to divert attention and create commotion. Although it did stir up a great disturbance, this just turned out to be verysuperficial in the end. We know this because in verse 38 and 39 it says, "The magistrates ...were frightened when they heard that the prisoners were Roman citizens; so they came themselves and [striving to appease them by entreaty] apologised to them. And they brought them out and asked them to leave the city."
What a dramatic turn of events! Yet you too can experience such a turn around, if you'll take your stand like Paul and Silas did. You'll go from feeling spiritually-beaten-up, to feeling normal again. And when the turbulence eventually dies down, you'll see all the awesome things God achieved in the midst of it!
God does not need a red carpet to make an entrance (He too can work in stealth!) The conditions don't have to be perfect for Him to move. God will do most when we least expect it and in the most unpredictable places. "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies..." (Psalm 23:5 KJV). The lilies grow in the valley not on the mountaintop. And its in that place of trouble that God performs life changing miracles. Paul's jailer "...brought them out [of the dungeon] and said, Men, what is it necessary for me to do that I may be saved?" (v 30)"And they declared the Word of the Lord... to him and to all who were in his house" (v 32 AMP).
God always has a purpose, beyond what the eye can see!I always tell my family and team: "When it seems like God is doing nothing, very often that's when He's doing most! Just because we can't see what's happening right now, doesn't mean that nothing's happening!" So be determined to see God in every situation. He is there... moving, working-miracles and speaking to all those who have ears to hear!
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Father I want to minister into the culture but not be part of it. Give me a heart for the people who are caught up in extravagant and selfish greed. Christ reached every people group. Every social stratum. He was not limited and bound to the religious crowds. Quite the opposite. Help me resist narcissistic tendencies in my own life, and to love those who exhibit them in theirs. Help me reveal Christ to this culture. In Jesus Name. Amen.
CONFESSION OF THE DAY
I am a child of the King. There is nothing I cannot have. Unless God prohibits. I do not yearn for the things of this culture. I yearn for God. I am not dictated to by a narcissistic spirit or tendency. My thirst is for God. I display this to the culture around me. To God be the glory.