My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence? (Galatians 5:16 MSG)
That root of self-interest gets us into more pickles than we'd honestly like to admit. We find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of a muddle because of some way we responded to something we should have left alone in the first place! Why is it we cannot 'leave alone' whatever it is we were reminded to leave alone? It is usually that root of self-interest that gives us the grief, my friends. We cannot steer away because we cannot take our focus off of that thing we aren't supposed to be messed up in. This whole walk of faith is muddled up with a walk directed with a whole lot of 'self-interest' in the middle of it! God doesn't just mysteriously take away all of our 'self-interest' one day, never to be seen or heard from again. He asks us to move away from needing to pay such close attention to it all the time, though! Easier said than done, huh? That voice of 'self-interest' is pretty loud and demanding at times.
We are going to be motivated by something - some internal drive will move us toward or away from whatever it is we are dealing with at the moment. It can be the internal drive of 'self-craving' (self-interest), or it could be the internal drive of the Holy Spirit within us helping us to see that interest as taking us nowhere good. The true way to deal with a root is to dig it up - get is exposed and deal with it. I had some problems with my water main a few years back, resulting in a little bit of trouble for the plumber who was called upon to fix it. The pine tree in the front yard had grown such large roots that it was putting pressure on the pipe, causing micro-fractures in the pipe. While a micro-fracture may not seem like much to you, with all the pressure in a water main, I was losing hundreds and hundreds of gallons of water each month until we realized what the problem was!
Sometimes we don't realize the 'pressure' being placed on us to conform a certain way - all because of some unrecognized root in our lives. The pressure may not seem like much at first, but when the 'pressure' being exerted is greater than the strength of the pipe, the pipe will have a hard time containing the pressure within the walls of that pipe! In our lives, we can only deal with so much conflict within, eventually succumbing to the pressure that exerts the greatest force! The greatest force may not always be the right pressure, though. If that pressure is that of the Holy Spirit, holding our lives together and helping us keep the focus of our lives directed correctly, this is a very good thing. If that pressure is our own self-interest, we get a whole lot different results. We begin to 'leak' where we should be contained!
The self-interests of life can only be dealt with in the same manner as the plumber restored my water main to 'health' once again. He had to deal with the roots that were causing all that external pressure. He had to cut away at those roots until a clear path was exposed for the water main to once again be in alignment and secure. Sometimes the things we allow the Holy Spirit to cut-away from our lives are the very things exerting all the pressure to get us to conform to our own self-interests. We might not like that we had to go through all that effort to find the root problem, expose it for what it truly is doing in our lives, and then get it finally dealt with, but until we do, the free-flow of God's grace and love can be greatly impacted! Just sayin!