One of the hardest things for me to do is to not put myself first. We are taught from an early age to look after number one, and don’t trust anyone but yourself. Well, over the years I got really good at that.I have found that is really easy to love myself and put myself before others. Even when I want to put others first I will do good for about a day or two just to fall back into my self first habits. How do we overcome this self-centered, self first attitude?
A few examples of how I fail at this is I remember having conversations with co-workers on a Friday afternoon with them giving me full details of what their weekend plans were. Only to have me ask them on Monday morning what they did that weekend. I forget about there plans and activities because during the weekend I was focused my own things,and satisfied my own desires. I forgot everything they told me because they were not as important to me as I was to myself. I have sat in my living room talking with my wife at night while she was describing her events for the following day only to have me text her the next morning asking her what she is doing today. I forgot because I was preoccupied more on what I was doing and events I was involved with. I also have forgotten dates and times of activities my kids were involved in because what I was doing was more important to me at that time then what they are doing. I have friends who are going through struggles who I forget to call and follow up with because I get wrapped up in my own problems. Now, it’s not that I don’t love my wife and children because I do. It is not that I am not really interested in what my friends and coworkers are up to, because I am, it is just that I obviously love myself more. But isn’t this what we are taught to do and to believe? It certainly comes natural, doesn’t it? I want people to know what is affecting me, what I am doing, what problems I am going through and want them to care, because it is all about me. I am sure I am the only one who thinks this way though, right?
What we have learned growing up and what seems to come so naturally even though it runs conversely to what is taught in the Bible. The Bible says to “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others”.( Php 2:3-4) WHAT? Count others more significant than myself, and look after their interests over my own? This is not something that comes naturally. Is this even achievable? As I studied this, I see this a common theme found in the Bible; it also says in 1Co 10:24, “ Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor”, and, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. This is very hard for me to do and find extremely difficult to even comprehend. But then I stumbled upon a verse in Romans 12:10, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Wait a minute, it says here to outdo one another. This sounds like a competition to me. I am a very competitive person, and this now seems like something I can relate to. I have to outdo others in showing honor by loving them.
Even though I know what to do it is still not natural, it will not come easy and I will have to learn to die to my self needs, and wants first in order to achieve it. I also cannot achieve this in my own ability either. The preceding verse to “love your neighbor as yourself” is found in Mat 22:37. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” You see we need to have our relationship with God right first before we can love others as ourselves. This is because the love the Father has for us needs to come through us to others. This is because we are lovers of self naturally, therefore we are only lovers of others supernaturally. In order for me to love others more and to put their needs over my needs I need to work on putting God in His right place in my life. I know I will fail at this, and it will take time as I learn to love God and others, so be patient with me. But I am a competitive person so I want to take the lead on this so let me tell you, you are better than me, you are more interesting than me, and I care more about you than I do myself.