Monday, August 29, 2011

We've Got Things the Around Way Wrong...uh, the Wrong Way Around

I am a devoted fan of the hit reality tv show "The Biggest Loser."  Often, on that show as the contestants describe themselves and their lives, specifically their journeys to obesity, I hear them say that it was due to the fact that they put everyone else in their lives first.  Then, I hear them describe their time on the Biggest Loser ranch as their time to focus on them.  They usually say that when they get back home, they are going to stop putting themselves last and start focusing on themselves.  

Those statements always bother me when I hear them and, for years now, I've wondered why, but I couldn't figure it out.  I couldn't figure out why a statement that sounds so wonderful would not sit well with me.  While everyone on the show praises the contestants for their new look on life and their new "me first" mentality, I just couldn't get behind it.

This weekend, while I was out shopping, I saw a picture frame for sale that had a picture of a generic happy family in it and on the border, the phrase "it's all about us" was etched in the wood in a repetitious pattern around the frame.  Then, I realized how Satan so subtlely slips those little self-centered thoughts and attitudes into our brains.  I understand the picture frame; I get the concept.  The concept of the picture frame is to love our families and, as long as we love each other and focus on our own family, we'll be all right.  We don't have to reach out to others or grow outside of our comfort zone, but if we stick together, we will thrive.

Jesus taught us to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27).  Nowhere does He say to love ourselves.  God did not put us on this earth to love ourselves; Jesus did not die for us so that we could love ourselves.  We are here to first love and serve God, then love and serve others.  So if, for instance, the contestants on "The Biggest Loser" truly became obese because they were so focused on others, then the problem does not lie within them, but in the other people in their lives.  It's not the contestants who need to change their paradigms, but the people around them who need to change.  You see, if we are truly living God's model for our lives and we're taking care of others' needs before our own, then our needs will get met because the people who care about us will meet our needs while we meet the needs of others.  So, the solution is not to start caring about and focusing on ourselves, but that the people around us need to change their focus and the only way they will change their focus is if they see it modeled in us.

Granted, our needs will not always be met by the people in our lives.  While He was on earth, Jesus served others, while all we did was take.  That may be the case for you.  You may feel like you give and give and give, while others just take and take and take, and that may very well be your reality.  However, if we are truly living selfless lives and our reliance is on God, then He will meet all our needs as He promises in Philippians 4:19.

Because I grew up in the American culture, the "me first" mentality has been etched in my brain and I fight it every day.  Every day, there is an internal battle about putting my needs over others' needs.  I have to continually fight against my flesh to push out all the selfishness that lies within, no matter how little or how much is there.  God doesn't want any selfishness to be there.  We can't get caught up in society's emphasis on self.  Instead, we need to try that much harder to model a selfless life so that others will change their perspectives.  If we are all living to meet others' needs, then our needs will be met in the process.

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