April 5, 2010

What's in it for me?

We always seem to be asking that question, don’t we? O, I know, most of us Christian blog reading types probably don’t often ask it out loud. That would appear prideful, wouldn’t it? But we still think it in our hearts sometimes, don’t we? I know I often do. ‘What’s in it for me?’

Well, though that question usually arises out of self-serving motives (notice the emphasis on me!) … the apostle Paul would have us know that there is at least one situation in which Christians actually should be asking: ‘What’s in it for me?’ Listen to what he says in Romans 6.21:

What benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed?

In other words: ‘Was your past life of sin really worth it? Did you really get anything positive out of it? Was there any benefit in it … really?’ O sure, it was fun. That’s why we did what we did! But did we really benefit from our sin? Of course not! And, by implication, if we were to continue in that sin, or go back to it, or even dabble in it … would there be any good outcome? Would there be anything ‘in it for me’ if I went back to living like I did in high school?

Those are good questions to ask ourselves when we are tempted to go back into sin (or to begin new sin habits): ‘What’s in it for me?’ Answer – the same thing that was in it for me way back when – shame. What did I get out of the way I lived as an unbeliever? Well, I am “now ashamed” of who I was, and where I went, and what I said, and what I did. And that is what is ‘in it for me’ if I go back. I’ll just heap up more and more shame onto the plate of my soul – more and more regret, and heartache, and burned bridges, and hurt loved ones, and embarrassing moments, and (most of all) disapproval from on high.

Not really benefits that we’d look forward to, huh? So why is it that I am still such a sucker? And why are you? Why do we still think that outbursts of anger, or cheap thrills, or binges of various sorts, or pity-parties, or stubbornness, or you-name-it will all of the sudden produce different and better results than they did before? Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results? Yes, that is insanity! And that is what sin is – absolute insanity!

So don’t be a spiritual nut-case! Ask yourself: “What benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed?” And if you are now ashamed of those things, don’t you think you’ll be ashamed again if you fall back into them? When you sin, what’s really in it for you?

O, if we could only train ourselves to ask that question in the moment of temptation! If we could only stamp Romans 6.21 onto the hot wax of our consciences … so that, every time we are tempted, we might remember how miserable sin actually makes us. Then we might quit it! Then we might all the more readily run to Jesus who has the power, not only to forgive us from sin, but to keep us from it!

So indulge yourself in a little Romans 6.21 kind of self-centeredness. Next time you are tempted to sin, just ask yourself honestly: ‘What’s in it for me?’


Anonymous said...

Your post is so simple...so unbelievably simple...like the verse in Rom 6...Why do we refuse to ask ourselves this most important question? Perhaps your wording--"What's in it for me?" will be impressed deeply on my thinking.
btw, though AnnMarie continues to demonstrate some very strange, difficult at times, behavior, we have had a couple of good days and much less real difficulty, due I am very sure, to the multitude of prayers that have gone up in our behalf. I have an appt w/neurologist next Tues. Thanks so much for your intercession. Please do not stop. Kathy

Kurt Strassner said...

We'll keep praying!