When Tony Stark finds himself dying in a cave, he is desperate for survival. And Iron Man is born. Through his experience he discovers the responsibility to serve others. And he is surprised when he discovers, through serving others, a purpose he had not previously known.

It is the same with us. In actuality, our greatest self-interest lies in serving others. Focusing externally is the best (and only) way to gain internal fulfillment.

We typically view pursuit of purpose as two diverging paths – serving self or serving others. This is correct in one sense. We cannot serve others if we use life’s opportunities for indulging our flesh or our superficial passions. But there is another sense in which this is not the case. There is an “us” that is separate from the flesh. We are a new creation in Christ. He wants the best for the “new us”. Jesus wants us to pursue our self-interest. But in order to do that we must know which “self” we are pursuing the best for.

This verse presumes we already love ourselves. Which means we were designed to pursue our self-interest. 

Our flesh’s view of “self-interest” leads to self-destruction. It leads to devouring and being devoured. A true perspective of ourselves lays the foundation for the pursuit of our true self-interest.

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
– Galatians 5:13-14