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    Collateral Damage is a term used to describe the inflicting of injury, pain, sorrow, difficulty or even death on an unintended target. As we progress through this lesson there may be a tendency for all of us to view ourselves as the victim of collateral damage. I'm going to ask you to resist that and see yourself instead as the one who inflicts it on others. We live in a society infected with the incurable disease of self-interest. It will never be eradicated until Jesus makes all things new, but with God's help we can lessen it's control of our heart and life. Let's start with an example of extreme self-interest in a people that should have known better.

    Num 17:12-13 And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish. Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of the LORD shall die: shall we be consumed with dying? These are the words of a people who had become extremely frustrated with the result of self-interest in their interaction with God, yet they seem to view God as the problem. Let's review some of the events leading up to their frustration.

    * At Mt Sinai the people had Aaron make a golden calf to be their god when Moses didn't come down form the mount quickly enough. When Moses did return the sons of Levi killed 3,000 men of Israel who stood against Moses.

    * Israel became dissatisfied with the manna God provided for them so He gave them quail to eat for a whole month and there was a great plague among the people.

    * Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses in the ears of the people and Miriam was given leprosy for 7 days.

    * Moses sent 12 spies to view the promised land. Ten of the men sowed fear in the hearts of the people because of their unbelief. As a result Israel would be forced to wonder in the wilderness for 40 years. They then decided to ignore God's judgment against them and fight with some of the inhabitants of the land only to be defeated.

    * Korah, Dathan and Abiram questioned Moses as being chosen by God and stirred up the people against him. As a result of God's judgment over 14,000 people died.

    All of the failures listed above are the result of self-interest. Collateral damage describes the trouble brought to others when we are self-interested. Rom 14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. Many seem to have the idea their thinking and behavior can only adversely affect them. God's word tells us there's nothing further from the truth. Our thinking and behavior greatly affects others. We are God's people, we should be the least self-interested people on Earth, our lives should be examples of dependence upon God and sacrifice for others. Jesus was a living example of that. Only in Him can we find the strength to walk in His steps. One final thought before we begin, to be truly selfless what motivates us must change.

    (2 Timothy 3:1-4) This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. Here we have listed for us some dangers of living in the last days. You will notice they are all the result of people walking after the flesh, being governed by self-interest.

    3:1 perilous times – Perilous means fierce, savage, hard to take, hard to bear, troublesome, dangerous. Extreme self-interest is the result of demonic oppression and that should be an indication of how dangerous it is. For an example we will go all the way back to the beginning. Gen 3:4-5 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. The devil has always sought to oppress us and increase our rebellion against God by appealing to our self-interest. A wise man said, “Satan disguises submission to himself under the ruse of living according to your own will. He never asks us to become his servants. Never once did the serpent say to Eve, “I want to be your master”. The shift in commitment is never from God to evil; it's always from God to self. Instead of God's will, self-interest then rules.” The affect of self-interest is more easily seen today than ever before. Anger is often the result of unmet expectations and the majority of people's expectations are aligned with self-interest. Anger resulting from unmet expectations should have no place in the heart of God's people, His truth should displace it. Justifying anger that results from not getting what we want is simply a way to hold on to self-interest. Our self-interest is savage, troublesome and dangerous to others. It's often children that suffer most and sadly we are teaching them to have the same self-interest.

    men shall be lovers of their own selves - Matthew Henry said, “When men are lovers of themselves, no good can be expected from them.” When we see ourselves as victims, when we are angry because we can't have what we want, when we are depressed or anxious because of our circumstance or failure, when we find it nearly impossible to have joy it's almost a certainty we are to in love with ourselves. Consider that such love for self causes many hardships for the weakest and most needy in our society. They're the ones who suffer the most because self-interest rules in those who should be sacrificing for them.

    covetous – Covetous literally means fond of silver. To understand how damaging a covetous person can be to others listen to what Paul says in 1 Tim 6:9-10 ...they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. A covetous man is drowning in ruin, erring from the faith and pierced through with many sorrows. What do you suppose that does to people around him?

    boasters – A boaster is an empty pretender. To understand the damage a pretender causes we will look to the words of Jesus concerning the religious leaders of His time. Matt 23:2-5 ...The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men... Extreme self-interest will make a person a hypocrite. The collateral damage caused by such people in a relationship, a family, a church and a nation, is almost irreversible. The hypocrite is himself deceived through his self-interest. He, in turn, seeks to deceive others.

    proud – An interesting definition of this word is overtopping, meaning to lift self above others. The proud worship self. Their motivation is self-interest. Listen to what the proud do from the book of Psalms. Ps 86:14 O God, the proud are risen against me..., Ps 119:51 The proud have had me greatly in derision... meaning to talk arrogantly against. Ps 119:69 The proud have forged a lie against me... Ps 119:85 The proud have digged pits for me... Ps 140:5 The proud have hid a snare for me... How's that for collateral damage. Adrain Rodgers used to say pride is a disease that makes everyone sick except the one stricken by it.

    blasphemers – A blasphemer is one who speaks evil of. To speak evil of others is a failure to identify the real enemy. Eph 6:12 ...we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Luke 4:5-7 ...the devil, taking him (Jesus) up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. The kingdoms of this world are oppressed and under the influence of the devil. When we fight against anyone else there will be much collateral damage.

    1:4 lovers of pleasures – Pleasure is the gratification of the senses or of the mind; agreeable sensations or emotions. To seek such is the ultimate form of self-interest. Our pleasure will seldom help others. To seek it above all else will cause harm to others which may lead to their destruction. Paul wrote in 1 Cor 9:19-22 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. It sounds as if sacrifice is the key to helping others and self-seeking can cause much hurt.

    Though we did not examine all of the things Paul listed in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 all are the result of self-interest and all cause collateral damage. Now let's briefly look at the cure.

    (Galatians 5:16-18) This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. The cure is God intervention. He must intervene in our life to keep us from inflicting damage upon others and intervene in others to repair the damage we have caused. I recently posted a warning on Facebook which read: Please keep in mind that God will not intervene in your life, in a truly profound way, unless you make Him the priority. It's not religion that has the answer. The proof of that is seen in the religious Jewish leaders of Jesus' day, the Islamic terrorists we have become acquainted with in the last 20 years and modern Christianity which has little to no influence on our culture. Religion only increases collateral damage. A personal relationship with God in which we learn His ways and apply His truth is the way to prevent collateral damage and point people who have been hurt to the great Physician. The fruit of the Holy Spirit flows from those who are intoxicated with God. Gal 5:25-26 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. It's time to acknowledge the damage caused by our self-interest and allow God to intervene.