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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Sisterhooves Social”

Selfishness and self-centeredness, I think we can all agree, are two things to try and avoid where possible. Often the two terms are used interchangeably, but I see a difference. Selfishness is a bit more overt to me. Acting on the impulse that I’m entitled to this, that, or the other thing because I earned it, I deserve it, it’s “mine”, etc. It’s knowing that something can go either to me or be shared and/or go to someone else and taking it all for myself anyway. Making excuses to put myself ahead. Most of all, it’s more of an “action” to me.

Rarity, on the other hand, demonstrates self-centeredness in this episode. Something that is more of a mindset or view rather than an action. She had to handle making breakfast because it had to be just the way she liked it. Her room had to be organized according to what she felt like because it had to be just her way. She couldn’t make time to play with her little sister because her time was more important and valuable. She didn’t want to go to the Sisterhooves Social because it was an activity she thought was dirty and uncouth, and she wanted Sweetie Belle to do activities she liked because she thought they were the best. In short, self-centeredness is a form of egotism that’s usually reserved for children but can (and often does) translate to adulthood where the way we see things are the way we believe things are, and as a result we impose this on other people; not just strangers but friends and family.

The end result of this was something Rarity learned the hard way: Sweetie Belle (like anyone around a self-centered person) could only take so much of this before she started wanting to distance herself from Rarity, and Rarity herself realized her self-centeredness had alienated herself from her little sister. Worse yet was even when she attempted reconciliation, her own self-centeredness frustrated the attempt.

Self-centeredness is not only a nasty mindset and habit; it’s one that’s hard to break once you get it. Acts of selfishness can be countered by adopting more acts of generosity, but when you see the whole world from your viewpoint alone that’s something harder to undo. You don’t learn to see the world a certain way and just train yourself to “unsee” it that way overnight. Furthermore, empathy, or being able to feel and sympathize toward others, is a skill that needs to be worked at any developed like any other good habit.

In John 3:30, John the Baptist is quoted as saying: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Although John was the greatest of the prophets, at the coming of Jesus he testified about his need for his own importance and ministry to diminish in light of the testimony and ministry of Our Lord. However, in true Biblical fashion, I believe this has an additional meaning for us in regards to self-centeredness. I’ve seen this verse as an admonition to not conform to a selfish or self-centered view but to see the world the way Jesus sees it.

Each and every day of our lives we have a chance to look beyond our own selfishness and make a difference in that of others. Not just in overt acts such as charity, giving, or hosting a ministry but in things like who we greet at the store or how we act with our families. It’s the viewpoint and outlook on life that makes the difference. It’s the mindset that lends us to do good and seize opportunities when we see a need in others; whether that be building a relationship with our siblings (as Rarity did when she started looking past herself and toward what her sister wanted), sharing the Gospel with others who are in need, or practicing “random acts of kindness”.

My wish for today is that all of us are able to see beyond ourselves not only to make a difference for others but to build better relationships and memories with our friends and loved ones, and that we all take time to pray for a “decrease” of self-centeredness and “increase” of godliness.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for the gift of my friends and family, and thank you for the relationships in my life that have strengthened me and brought out the best in me. Help me to never take any of these people for granted, but rather to grow to be as receptive to them and their needs as they are to mine. And please help me to see the world more as you do so that I will also be receptive to others. In the words of John the Baptist, please ‘increase’ in me. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”