Sunday, December 14, 2008

The “Me First” Mentality

Luke 9:57-62

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 - Lk 9:57-62 “As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." And Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Yet another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."’

Note these “me first” terms given. “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.” This “me first” mentality was fundamentally opposed to Jesus’ concept of following Him.... He demanded that one “deny himself” to follow Him - Lk 9:23 “And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” He required that one “hate...his own life also” - Lk 14:26 ‘"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

Living in a culture that praises putting self first and then “Looking Out For #1”, it is easy for Christians to adopt this “me first” mentality. Let’s consider some ways we can be guilty of the “me first” mentality. Let’s start with our attendance of congregational services. The Scriptures reveal the example and value of assembling together with other Christians - Ac 2:42 “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”; 20:7 “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.”; He 10:25 “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Yet many will often put personal interests before opportunities to attend services:

1.) Recreational outings.

2.) Family gatherings.

3.) Elective work or school related activities.

4.) Staying home to read or watch TV.

-- Haphazard attendance is a sign of the “me first” mentality.

Let’s consider some ways we can be guilty of the “me first” mentality in our contribution. Christians are instructed to give of their prosperity to meet certain needs - 1 Co 16:1-2 “Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.”; 2 Co 9:7-9 “Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, "He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."’

Yet many will give sparingly because:

1.) They want to spend as much as possible on things for themselves.

2.) They have failed to properly budget their contribution to the Lord.

3.) They are burdened with bills for things that are not necessities, but actually luxuries.

-- Negligent giving of our prosperity is a sign of the “me first” mentality.

Let’s consider some ways we can be guilty of the “me first” mentality in our service to one another. God has blessed each of us with gifts to serve one another - Ro 12:3-8 “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”; 1 Pe 4:10-11 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Yet many make little effort to do their part in the work of the local congregation:

1.) They do not learn the names of the other members.

2.) They do not seek to find their “gift” or ability God has given them.

3.) Men do not attend the business meetings; women do not teach classes.

4.) 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.

When we continue this lesson we will consider some ways we can be guilty of the “me first” mentality in our family relationships.