What's In It For Me?
Let’s just go ahead and admit it – All of us do everything that we do in our lives with the hopes that it will make us feel better, make us richer, make us more attractive, make us healthier, make us stronger, make us win, etc. We do what we do because of some perceived benefit for ourselves. We are the center of our universe. The world does revolve around us.
It’s out there now. We’ve claimed it. We’ve gotten real. When push comes to shove, it’s all about us and what we will get. What will I gain? How will I be better off? What’s in it for me? These are our questions.
Here’s the rub: This reality is counter to the life that God desires all of us to live, as followers of Jesus. God desires for you and me to know that the universe revolves around God. And all that we have gained, will gain or even desire to gain, is nothing more (and noting less) than a gift from God.
As followers of Jesus we are called to live our lives, not seeking blessings. But in response to all of the blessings that we have already received. Even living our lives in response to the blessings that we have yet to receive. As followers of Jesus, we are called to live with an attitude of gratitude. Not an attitude of what’s-in-it-for-me-tude.
There-in-lies our problem. How do I both acknowledge that I am constantly looking for everything in my life to benefit me in some way; while simultaneously living as a follower of Jesus? How do I claim both realities at the same time? And then how do I overcome the former reality in favor of the latter?
The first step is easy – Confess that you are a follower of Jesus, who battles with the idea that you want everything that you do, in your life, to benefit you in some way. At this point there is nothing more to do than to simply get real. Admit it. Acknowledge it. Claim it. Embrace it. And be it.
The second step is also easy. If you do the leg work. “Prosocial behavior – altruism, cooperation, trust and compassion – are all necessary ingredients of a harmonious and well-functioning society,” said lead author Bryant P.H. Hui, PhD, a research assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong. “It is part of the shared culture of humankind, and our analysis shows that it also contributes to mental and physical health.”
Dr. Hui and his researchers, analyzed 201 independent studies comprising 198,213 total participants and found out that pro-social behavior (helping others) benefits the mental and physical health of the one doing the helping. (Forbes, September 30, 2020) It’s a scientific fact that showing love, cooperation, trust and compassion to others is good for your physical and metal well-being. Being good is good for you!
Does this twenty-first century scientific finding sound familiar? “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12) “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35) “For you were called to freedom. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. ” (Galatians 5:13) The story of Jesus is a story of the benefits of showing love, cooperation, trust and compassion. The story of how helping others benefits your life in real, tangible, what’s-in-it-for-me ways.
So, going back to our original problem – what’s-in-it-for-me-tude. You can experience your natural desire to make everything about yourself and still be a follower of Jesus. You don’t have to give that part of you up. You don’t have to punish yourself every time you ask yourself, “What’s in it for me?” You don’t even have to do the scientific research. All you need to do is follow the simple teachings of Jesus and love others as you love yourself. Fully knowing that you are personally benefiting physically, mentally and spiritually in the process. That’s what’s in it for you!