Summary: When we truly put the kingdom of God and others before ourselves, then the Lord will see to it that we have the things that we need.
The “Me First” Mentality
Reading: Luke 9:57-62
[Note: This lesson is adapted from an article entitled “The Me First Syndrome” by Wayne Jackson Christian Courier: Penpoints 11/14/05.]
As Jesus went about His earthly ministry, people either wanted to follow Him, or were invited by Him; yet some desired to do so on their own terms - Luke 9:57-62
• “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”
• “Lord, I will follow you, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”
In the manner of His response it was not that Jesus was unsympathetic to the would be disciple’s misfortune; rather, Christ quickly perceived that the man was afflicted with a common syndrome, which we may call “Me-firstology”, that is the study and practice of the “Me First” mentality.
A syndrome is a “pattern of symptoms” that identifies an “abnormality.” While the “me-first” mentality is not deemed an abnormality by society today, where looking out for “number one” is standard, we as Christians need to realize that such an inclination is at odds with the teaching of the Son of God.
The “me first” mentality is fundamentally opposed to Jesus’ concept of following Him...
• He demanded that one “deny himself” to follow Him.
Luke 9:23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
[Living in a culture that praises putting self first and then “Looking Out For #1”, it easy for Christians to fall into the “me first” mentality.]
I. THE “ME FIRST” MENTALITY
A. An Historical Example
The Jews of the first century had become experts in the “me-first” mentality. Christ clearly upbraided the Pharisees because their materialistic traditions led them to neglect the “weightier provisions of the law” (Matthew 23:23).
For example, the Law of Moses bade the Jews “honor” their parents, which included caring for parental needs. But these hypocrites were so steeped in “me-firstology” they concocted a method of avoiding this solemn duty. They “tagged” their financial resources as “Corban,”, which meant it was to be dedicated to God (Mark 7:8), then claimed that it would be improper to spend their finances on behalf of their needy parents.
B. The Modern Syndrome
“Me-firstology” is by no means dead. The “me-first” mentality is only occasionally recognized, rarely specifically identified, and generally is overlooked in our culture. The sad fact is that there are many areas where this syndrome may manifest itself in the lives of professing Christians.
1) IN OUR FAMILIAL RELATIONSHIPS...
a. Christians have duties to members of their physical families
Colossians 3:18-21 “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.”
b. Many families suffer when people seek their own interests above another
• When husbands and wives are selfish in their dealings with each other
• When children fail to honor and obey their parents
c. Dysfunctional families abound where the “me first” mentality exists
2) IN OUR SERVICE TO ONE ANOTHER...
a. God has blessed each of us with gifts to serve one another - Romans 12:3-8
1 Peter 4:10-11 “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
b. Yet many make little effort to do their part in the work of the local congregation:
• They do not learn the names of the other members
• They do not seek to find their “gift” or ability God has given them
• They may attend church, but only to receive, not to give of themselves - Lack of involvement in the local church is a sign of the “me first” mentality
3) IN OUR ATTENDANCE...
a. The Scriptures reveal the example and value of assembling together with other Christians
Acts 2:42; 20:7
Hebrews 10:25 “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
b. Yet many will often put personal interests before opportunities to attend services:
• Recreational outings
• Family gatherings
• Elective work or school related activities
• Staying home to read or watch TV