Last night I lay awake for a while, unable to sleep. My mind continued to work, and I thought about how I am self-centered. And manipulative. And selfish. And how easy it is for me to try to get what I want out of people. And an image popped into my head: "I use people like vending machines. I try to give them the right combination of things so that I can get out of them what I want. I push the right buttons so that I can get what I want."
That's the way my thoughts went. Remarkably thoughtful for a brain that should be sleeping, yes? Perhaps that's why I couldn't sleep...my brain wasn't ready to stop thinking. And that thought was true. Too often, way too often, I try to get what I want out of people. Instead of seeing how I can give to others without ulterior motives, I look at people to see what I can get out of them, ready to do what I need to in order to get what I want.
This is all an "I" thing. I am selfish, self-centered, and sinful. Jesus commands me to love others, to do things for others without expecting anything in return. But I don't only do this with people. I do it with God as well.
A lot of this "vending machine" approach happens in my subconscious mind and actions. It is easy to go to God to get what I want. What I don't realize when I exhibit this kind of behavior towards God is that what I am really looking for is happiness and fulfillment that only God can give. I look at God like He is a vending machine, when He doesn't charge me anything and instead paid me, basically. He took away my sin and sacrificed His Son so that I don't have to look for something else. He is everything I need! If I could be in constant awareness of that truth, I don't think I would be as manipulative and self-centered as I tend to be.
Our subconscious thoughts and wants determine our actions. When I look at people as objects or how they can make me happy I am displaying a subconscious desire for "false gods." When I look at others as people to serve and give to, I display a heart that wants to obey God and is content in following Him.