I once read of a mother who was taking her five-year-old son to lunch at McDonald’s. That was his favorite place to eat and he was excited about getting to go there. As they neared the restaurant the traffic started slowing down and soon they saw flashing lights and heard sirens which indicated there had been an accident.
He started asking his mother a lot of questions about what was happening and why they were stopping. She explained to him that there had been a car accident and someone could be hurt. It then occurred to her that this was an opportune teaching time for the youngster. Thus, she told her son that they should pray for them. She almost immediately heard her son praying from the back seat, “Please God, don’t let those cars block the entrance to McDonald’s!”
Of course, we can laugh about this story because we know it comes from the mind of a five-year-old. However, if the same prayer had come from a more mature individual, we would have thought, “How selfish!” and rightly so. Unfortunately, selfishness or the “I” problem often affects people all ages.
One of the great passages of the Bible dealing with this matter is recorded in Luke 12. Jesus was teaching about “covetousness” which is a form of selfishness. He illustrated His point as He often did with a parable. This particular parable is about a farmer whose crops had yielded an all-time harvest.
As the farmer contemplated what he would do with his abundance, notice the “I” problem that plagued him: “He thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry” ’ ” (Luke 12:17-19) [emphasis added].
However, the parable does not stop here. We learn that after the farmer’s selfish conclusion, God speaks to him and says, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will these things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20, 21).
His “I” problem was serious. All he could see was how his harvest could make him rich and couldn’t see how helping others could make him rich toward God.
Now that we know what God is looking for, how would we do on His “I” exam?