Does Putting Ourselves First Come Naturally?

“Putting ourselves first doesn’t come naturally,” a glossy magazine lay open on my lap.  

I said aloud to absolutely no one, “Well that’s a bunch of bologna.” 

The article continued in the same vain and I understood a bit of where it was coming from, but really didn’t like where it headed. Filled with suggestions on how to put myself first, how to be strong, and the assurance that “I’ve got this, girl,” seemed to put truth far in the opposite direction. 

Why are we so eager to embrace the lie that a “selfish life is a happy life?” 

Its voice is loud and quite reasonable, yet subtle as the whisper of a snake in the garden. “Did God really say?”

Satan’s fall came because he wanted to make himself like God. (Isaiah 14:12-15)

Isn’t that the crux of sin? Is it not holding my will, an act, a thought, a desire in my tight little fist, holding it up high and claiming it equal with God’s will, thoughts and desires? 

“Give it to Mommy.” I remember my tiny daughter’s little fingers squeezing a penny like a beggar would his last meal. I remember the dare in her eyes, cause at that moment, there was nothing she wanted more than to put it in her mouth and swallow. And in fact, she did before my dive rescued it. 

So let’s say, where it ended up is a great example of the result of sin’s delicacies. 

Self comes far too naturally in my life according to God’s Word. Nurturing it with the water of world’s teaching sprouts some crazy weeds with roots confused and distorted.  I find the balance threatened and shift inside of me when I listen more to expert’s opinions than to God’s Word.

John the Baptist’s disciples found the increasing fame of Jesus unsettling. With today’s characteristic bravado they approached Jesus’ cousin, the Baptizer. 

“Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” John 3:26 NIV

John answered. He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30 NIV

I find balance unbelievably difficult. When my waters muddy with voices telling me a selfish life is a happy life, may I remember One whose life in every way displayed the opposite.

Jesus, the only person who lived the perfect example of balance took time alone. He rested. He replenished. Yet He never gave in to self. Those times of prayer and communion with the Father kept Jesus strong against Satan’s temptations to turn stones to bread, claim kingdoms, or celebrate fame.

 A glimpse of how much it cost to put God the Father’s will and our redemption over self thunders from the quiet of two very different gardens. 

The first sinless created beings gave in to the hiss of self in the beautiful Garden of Eden. It looked good, it seemed reasonable, and they had to have it more than they had to obey. 

Jesus’s tortured soul battled on the soil of a garden on the pathway to the cross, the Garden of Gethsemane.  

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:35-36 NIV

We are Johns. Our mission is always to prepare the way for One greater. May we become smaller, little people with yielded selves, ready to raise higher a mighty God. And may we slay the serpent of lies who claims putting self first is the true way to happiness. 

As we put God in His rightful place we find ours. 

*Feature photo by Austin Kehmeier on Unsplash 
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20 Replies

  1. Jeannie Waters Reply

    Thank you for wise words that apply to adults and the children we love. Your posts are always valuable, Sylvia.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Jeannie. Really appreciate your patience with the tech glitches too!

  2. Ali Wieboldt Reply

    Such a good reminder… and the final thought is so much the key for me…remembering that if God is in the right place in my life, I will be in the right place! Thanks!!

  3. J.D. Wininger Reply

    I found myself saying “Amen” more times than I ought to have. Thank you for speaking truth into our lives ma’am. For me, it’s when I put myself (my wants and desires) first that I get in trouble the most.

  4. Candyce Carden Reply

    You make some really good point in this post! I do believe in self-care so we can be our best, but we must take care not to allow self-care become self-“ishness.”

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      It is a difficult balance at times for me. Which I think might have prompted the post! Thanks so much for reading it Candyce and I appreciate your comment!

  5. Tammy Kennington Reply

    Hi Sylvia.
    This is beautiful and rich and full of truth. I love these words–The first sinless created beings gave in to the hiss of self in the beautiful Garden of Eden. It looked good, it seemed reasonable, and they had to have it more than they had to obey.”
    God, help me to not to heed the hiss of self.
    Blessings,
    Tammy

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Tammy. I’m so grateful for your words. I also pray that God will help me not to heed the hiss of self. Thanks so much!

  6. Barbara Latta Reply

    Being self-focused comes naturally to the fallen human nature, but once we are born again, we leave that world behind. But our minds still want to hang on to those old thoughts and that’s where the temptation comes in. This is where we take those thoughts captive. Thanks for this soul-searching post, Sylvia!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Barbara, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I am grateful Christ bought and paid for sins. How I want to grow in learning to put others first!! Appreciate you reading and commenting.

  7. Barb Fox Reply

    Appreciate you speaking to this so straight on. “Isn’t that the crux of sin? Is it not holding my will, an act, a thought, a desire in my tight little fist, holding it up high and claiming it equal with God’s will, thoughts and desires? ” And while being a good steward of His resources includes taking care of our minds & bodies, it is His will (not ours) that matters.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Barb. This is an area of life that I need growth in. I appreciate you reading and responding!

  8. Kathy Reply

    I found this quote from your article so insightful–“I find balance unbelievably difficult. When my waters muddy with voices telling me a selfish life is a happy life, may I remember One whose life in every way displayed the opposite.” Thank you, Sylvia for a thought-provoking post!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Kathy. I’m glad you found that insightful. My need is looking to Jesus throughout my moments to find the balance He brings.Thanks for reading and commenting!

  9. Emily Huffman Reply

    As you mentioned already, it is a difficult balance! I’m definitely in the category of needing to put others first more often. However, in hearing the stories of other women unfortunately they too often hear the message that they should not speak up nor stand up for themselves and thus continue facing circumstances that they shouldn’t. Too often women’s needs are silenced. It’s important that women learn their worth and that they do have a voice. However yes, it’s a difficult balance.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Without a doubt balance is difficult. Scripture simply has to be my grid through which all voices must be sifted, or I fall one way or another. What the Bible tells me does not always coincide with what others seem to feel is right for me, and that is ok. Above all, I truly want to do what pleases Jesus and I have to do that by following the anchor of His Word. Thanks so much Emily for reading and sharing your thoughts. Let’s keep the conversation and learning going.

  10. andrew brucato Reply

    Another great reflection, mind reader!

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