by David Sisler

Self-interest is something we all understand. We learn as infants how to get what we want. Hungry? Just cry. Mom will feed us. Wet? Just change the tune and Mom will change our diaper. When we get a little older, the tactics may vary, but the bottom line is still the same – what’s in it for me?

Horace Mann, a 19th-century American educator delivered an address at the opening of a reformatory for boys. He made the statement that if only one boy were saved from a ruin it would pay for the cost of establishing such an institution.

Later, in private, a listener asked Mann, “Did you not exaggerate when you said all the expense and labor would be repaid if it saved one boy?”

Mann replied, “Not if it were my boy!”

Michael Grant looked with self-interest at his marriage. It had been 19 years of adjustment, a pattern that would never stop because the relationship continues to grow and change.

Grant said, “Don’t mistake it for a solid marriage. There is no such thing. Marriage is more like an airplane than a rock. You have to commit the thing to flight, and then it creaks and groans, and keeping it airborne depends entirely on attitude. Working at it, though, we can fly forever. Only she and I know how hard it has been, or how worthwhile.”

That is a healthy self-interest!

Sam Walton was an American success story. Starting with one store in Arkansas he developed a billion dollar empire of Wal-Mart Stores and Sam’s Discount Clubs. One of the secrets to his success was recognizing the self-interest of his employees. Mr. Sam’s employees own stock in the company. The previous day’s stock market quote is even posted in the employee’s lounge. It is in their self-interest for their company to make a profit.

Can you understand the man who asks, “Why should I be a Christian? What is in it for me?” It is not a bad question. It is in your self-interest to ask it and to examine the answer.

There is a self-righteous streak inside all of us. Given the chance, we take credit for almost everything we achieve, even our salvation. That is why the Apostle Paul wrote, “Your salvation is nothing you have achieved by your good works. It is a gift of God. You receive it by faith. That way no one can boast of his own accomplishments.”

There are two very interesting definitions of piety. One is: “reverently devout.” The other is: “solemnly hypocritical.” We all like to think we are a little pious. I’ll let you decide which definition applies, but the truth is, most of us think that we loved the Lord, and He loved us back. Quite the contrary, the Bible says, “We love Him because He first loved us.” And that is very much to our own self-interest.

The Bible says: “Here in is love; not that we loved God, but that God loved us, and sent His only Son to be the suitable sacrifice for our sins.” That, too, is very much to our own self-interest.

It is good for our humility to learn that God does not meet us where we think we are or where we wish we were. He meets us exactly where we are – and that is at the point of our greatest self-interest.

One day the crowds were deserting Jesus as quickly as they could. He was doing some hard teaching and they decided, “This is not the man we want to follow.” Jesus turned to the disciples and asked, “Will you also go away?”

Understanding the self-interest of Jesus in the life of Simon Peter, Peter answered, “Lord, if we do leave, where will we go? You are the only one with the word’s of eternal life.”

The next time you ask, “What’s in it for me?” think about Jesus and understand – what’s in it, is eternal life. It is His free gift. For your own self-interest, receive it.


Copyright 2002 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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