What Have You Done for Me Lately?
“I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” Malachi 1:2
Years ago, while halfway through a marathon for which I was poorly prepared, a runner ahead of me veered off course and collapsed. I’m ashamed to admit that I was a little thrilled. I realized that I’d get to quit running, play the doctor/hero, and ride back to the finish line in the ambulance. Yes, I wanted to finish the race, but I’m a physician, so I didn’t think twice about sacrificing my day to help this poor man.
As I ran over, ecstatic that I had a way out of the miserable race, another runner beat me to him. Still, I had my doctor card to play. You go ahead and get back in this race. I’m a physician. I’ll take care of this. Much to my dismay, this other good Samaritan informed me that he too was a physician, he got there first, and this was his patient. I’m pretty sure that supposed do-gooder just wanted out of the marathon. Demoralized, I conceded and resumed my miserable race.
This story reveals a life problem of mine. When confronted with any situation, my first and most natural question is, How does this affect me? Sure, I had some concern for the fallen runner, but preempting that concern was my self-interest. How does this help me?
This is natural for most of us. Most of us are prone to think first of our own will, before the will of everyone else. Unfortunately, we usually carry this natural self-interest into our relationship with God. Like the Israelites in today’s passage, we often think, What can God do for me? If he answers prayer, what should I ask for? Our natural selfishness twists faith into a genie-in-a-bottle relationship.
Still though, God says, I love you and I want what’s best for you. Stop following yourself. What is natural for you is often destructive. It is after all, your self-interest that has caused you so much misery.
Though we foolishly pursue joy, purpose and meaning in ourselves, it is only in daily abandoning ourselves to follow God, that we find our true joy, purpose, and meaning. This may not be natural, but this is the path to life.