I was driving down the road the other day when I suddenly hit a bunch of traffic. I was in a hurry and not in the mood to be generous to any intruding cars trying to merge into my lane.
As one car tried to squeeze their way in front of me, I reluctantly slowed down and let them over out of sheer Christian obligation. I wasn’t excited about it. Ever been there?
Not too long before that I was with a large group of people and pulled out my pack of gum to grab a quick piece. Instead of offering a piece to everyone in the group, I quickly and quietly slid my gum back into my purse so I wouldn’t have to “give away” the entire pack.
Ever done that?
Before I got married my sisters (Bethany and Ellissa) and I all shared clothes. I loved when they got something new because it added a nice addition to my wardrobe as well. I didn’t have a problem borrowing clothes from them…but if they wanted to borrow something from me – watch out.
I would give them a 5 minute speech every time on how the item needed to be returned in better condition than when it left, and it needed to be returned as soon as they were done using it. Ever had trouble sharing something?
Sadly, those are all true examples from my own life.
In case you thought I was perfect, now you know the ugly truth.
Instead of always being the wonderful, godly, sweet girl that I want to be, I can be quite a sinner from time to time.
To put it plainly, I’m a pro at loving myself and putting myself first.
In fact, every example from above is me loving myself quite well. Without anyone telling me how to love myself, I knew how to do it from the time I was born. Before I knew how to talk I cried when I needed something. Before I knew how to walk I threw a fit when things didn’t go my way.
My needs and wants have always come first in my life.
Putting myself first is my automatic response in life.
I was really convicted about this the other day while driving back from a long road trip to Colorado. I was sitting in the car with my husband and his family and we were all listening to a sermon about selfishness, pride and ingratitude.
The sermon was based on 2 Timothy 3:1-9 which talks about “godlessness in the last days.” It lists a whole bunch of terrible sins that will become common in the “last days.” Verse 1 and the beginning of verse 2 is what hit me square between the eyes.
It says, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self…”
Lovers of self?? Wow. That is totally me.
Disclaimer: If you’re the type of girl who has it all together and never struggles with putting others first, then this blog isn’t for you. For the rest of you, KEEP READING.
The sermon went on to explain how loving yourself and putting yourself first is highly destructive to your Christian life. My ears perked up. I wanted to know more.
When you love yourself more than you love others, your entire worldview takes a dramatic shift.
Here are three major side effects that come from loving yourself:
1. Your prayer life changes.
When you love yourself more than others, your prayers become all about you. Instead of praying, “Lord, please heal my mom from her sickness so she doesn’t have to be in pain” you pray, “Lord, heal my mom from her sickness so she can cook my meals and do my laundry.”
Your prayers for others slowly become more about how they will benefit you. Your prayers become all about your little world and how God can make it easier, better and more enjoyable for you.
2. You look for wiggle room.
A good sign that your loving yourself is when you look for wiggle room out of every spiritual conviction. For example: You meet a new girl at class and you know she’s not a Christian. You feel the Holy Spirit prompting you to share the gospel with her. Instead of loving that girl and caring about her eternal destination, you make every excuse in the book and wiggle out of it.
You know you should jump up and help your sister with the dishes, but you don’t. You know you should offer to babysit for that young couple at church, but you don’t. You know you should read your Bible more, but you don’t. You wiggle, wiggle, wiggle out of every prompting the Holy Spirit gives you because you’re more interested in loving yourself.
3. The gospel becomes boring.
Serving a King whose entire life was focused on serving others will become pretty boring when you’re busy loving yourself. Has the power and splendor of the gospel ever seemed boring and dull to you at times? If so, that’s a good indication that your heart is more focused on loving you than on loving God.
If you want to get fired up about sharing the gospel and reading your Bible, you need to humble yourself and put others first. You need to deny your flesh and instead invest time in your relationship with God.
You need to love God and others more than you love yourself.
Let me ask you this last question, and you need to answer honestly: When was the last time you bowed your knee before God and said, “I love you more than I love me”?
Have you ever bowed your knee to God and humbly said that to Him? If not, now is a good time to start. If you’re struggling in your relationship with God, your problem is most likely that you’re loving yourself more than Him. You will never become a vibrant and joy-filled Christian until you actively deny yourself, and put other’s and God first.
In what ways are you loving yourself more than others and more than God?
Can you relate to any of those examples I gave at the beginning? In what small ways are you loving yourself more than others?
How can you put your family, friends and strangers first today?
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Share in the comments below and let me know what other negative side effects you see in your own life.
Photo credit: www.flickr.com | Helga Weber