“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 (NIV)
We stopped at the wayside rest area to get a little something to eat, refill our water bottles, and stretch our legs a bit. It was a long trip from our home in the center of Michigan to my Aunt Patty and Uncle Lee’s place in beautiful northern Wisconsin. This particular wayside had an interesting gift shop stocked with many items found in nature. There were fascinating snarled pieces of driftwood, multicolored Native American artifacts, dazzling copper bracelets and classic turquoise jewelry. There were also over a hundred varieties of seashells. Our three kids made their way down the aisles, studying the wonderful treasures before their eyes.
At the end of one aisle sat a turnstile display sporting whimsical kitchen mugs, personalized with first names on each of them. One of the boys spied it and alerted his siblings to this amusing find. Soon all three kids were giving the rack a spin and looking for something. What was it?
You guessed it! Each of the kids was looking for his or her own name. They didn’t really care if the name of a sibling, cousin or friend was printed on the side of any of those coffee cups. They longingly looked for their own personal string of letters in a row, the one that would spell out “me.”
We’ve all done the same thing in different ways. When we get our family reunion pictures, high school class yearbook, or church pictorial directory, something within us drives us to pick up those items and determine, “Where am I in this?”
Sadly, we often live our lives in a way that also says, “Me first!” Whether it is the plans for the coming weekend or the control of the television remote, what we really want to know, whether we verbalize it or not, is: “What’s in this for me?” Because we have been born and raised in a society that seeks to promote self and self-interests, we find it rather easy and comfortably familiar to put ourselves and our wishes ahead of others; to elevate our opinions, to cater to our own wants and to generally whine as if, “It’s all about me.”
Living the true Christian life is just the opposite. Our actions as followers of Christ should portray to our families and to the general public an inversion of what they see in the world. The world out there says to look out for “number one,” climb over anyone you need to in order to reach the top, and pamper yourself on a regular basis. We who claim Christ should instead be the ones who go the extra mile, give the benefit of the doubt, and put other’s desires ahead of our own. We should be in the business of being others-centered rather than self-centered.
Now don’t misread today’s verse and surmise that we are never to think about what we might need in life. It says we should look not only to our own interests, but to the interests of others. Taking care of yourself and your needs is okay. Just don’t stop there. Take into account the other guy or gal, too. Be friendly when you drive, gladly give up that close parking space, let someone else choose the restaurant, or allow that mom with screaming children to cut in front of you at the supermarket even though your order is smaller than hers. Let her go first and pray for her as you wait.
Let’s look for little ways to daily lay down our lives for others. It will make us less of a self-absorbed person and more like Christ.
Dear Lord, May You gently nudge me today as I go through life, pointing out to me tangible ways to put others first. Shape my heart to look more like Yours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Do you know Him?
Homespun Gifts from the Heart by Karen Ehman
Be on the look out for situations that call for you to make a choice between yourself and another person. Make the right choice in order to portray a demeanor that says, “No really, after you!”
Do something anonymously today that will bless a friend or stranger. Leave a note, send a flower, or set out a special treat to grant them a bright spot in their day
When in the past has someone else put your wishes unselfishly ahead of their own? What was the result?
Is there an area where you struggle with selfishness in on a consistent basis? What changes do you know in your heart you should make? Make them!! Do it quietly and see if others notice a change in your behavior.
Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (NIV)
Proverbs 18:1, “An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment.” (NIV)