WIIFM Syndrome

Unknown We all struggle with it. Some say we are born with it. Others say we learn it. Regardless, there is no getting around it.

It affects how we spend our time. It affects how we spend our money. And it affects our daily decisions.

What is WIIFM? It’s “What’s In It For Me?” It’s our absorption with self. It’s our “It’s all about me” attitude.

In The Beginning

It started at the beginning. Adam and Eve, in the garden, were deceived into thinking that God, by not letting them eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, was holding out on them.

The serpent told Eve, God knows that when you eat of [this tree] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Gen. 3:5). Eve, you need to think about your self!

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate (Gen 3:6-7). 

And with that bite of the fruit, WIIFM syndrome entered the world.    Adam and Eve made themselves the center of the universe instead of God. And they thought it might work out. But it didn’t. Just read Genesis 4-11.

It’s Not Getting Any Better

To this day, we still believe the serpent’s lie. “Do you really think you can be fulfilled by being obedient to God?” “Serving others without thinking about yourself? Are you kidding? If you don’t look out for you, who will?”

Sometimes we even disguise our WIIFM syndrome. As Christians, we like to serve others, but sometimes, by serving others we are only serving ourselves.

Tim Keller writes, “When you say, ‘I’ll serve, as long as I’m getting benefits from it,’ that’s not actually serving people; it’s serving yourself through them. It’s using others by getting them to orbit around you.”

Sometimes we seek friends that can advance our careers or benefit our social standing. We give money to ministries in order to look charitable (and the tax break doesn’t hurt either). It’s hard to get away from WIIFM.

Enter Jesus

Jesus said, For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). And oh how we need rescuing!

Paul wrote, Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2:6-8).

Christ did not ask “What’s in it for me?” but “How can I glorify my Father?” And as a result, he took up the cross, died for our sins and rose again.

So now, as we trust and believe in Christ’s work on the cross, we are being saved from the idolatry of self. We are being transformed into his image. And hopefully, we are discovering the joy found in asking not “What’s in it for me?” but “How can I glorify God and bless those around me?”

It is the gospel that pushes us to LOOK AWAY from ourselves and to LOOK UP to Christ in order to LOOK OUT to our neighbors. This is true spirituality.

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