“I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.”
3 John 1:9
Ouch! This verse hits home. Would anyone want their reputation to be that they put themselves first? I can be selfish. I often seek the best seat, first crack at the food, or to be first in line. I fall so easily into the trap of thinking putting myself first is the way to be happy. That’s a lie! It’s one tool our enemy, Satan, uses to lead us away from Jesus.
It feels like putting self first makes us happy because it does: momentarily. For the moment, we enjoy the comfort, recognition, or convenience self-promotion brings us. But what are the fruits over time? I have found that although I may enjoy indulging self at the time, my selfish cravings are never satisfied. It becomes a black hole that can’t be filled. Self always wants more. Self starts wanting to always be first. There is always another craving. I can’t think of a time that my flesh (as opposed to my spirit) was completely satisfied.
Jesus said that anyone who wants to follow Him must deny him or herself daily. (Luke 9:23) Self-denial sounds painful. It doesn’t feel good. Paul goes on to say in Philippians 2:3 that we should consider others as better than ourselves and challenges us not to do anything from selfish ambition. This is the opposite of what the world teaches. But what are the results of living this way? Denying self may be painful for the moment, but choosing to follow Jesus and say no to selfish desires brings true fulfillment. We become like Jesus when we live this way. Our lives glorify Him.
I don’t want to be blinded by self. I want my eyes to be open. I want to be rich in good works, to be ready to share, to store up treasures in heaven, and know what true life is. (1 Timothy 6:17-19) When I die to self and serve others, I receive peace and joy. I don’t want to be known as Susan, who likes to put herself first. I want to be known as one who shows the love of Jesus.
Father, I can’t live this way in my strength. I’m weak. Please be strong in me. May your Holy Spirit work in me and help me to love You above all and to live for You and then to love others and serve them. Help me to walk in sync with the Spirit and know what true life is.