The Son of God could have stayed safely and comfortably in heaven, enjoying unbroken communion with the Father, the Holy Spirit, the angels and the saints who have gone before us. Instead, He put the needs and desires of others before His own to become a baby in a dirty, smelly manger, to grow up in obscurity, to heal and serve others, to proclaim the greatest news of all time and to pay the price for our sin with His own life.
The Apostle Paul summarizes Jesus Christ’s example and what our response should be in Philippians 2:1-8. Would you please take a few minutes to read this passage?
We naturally say, “Me first.”
Do nothing out of selfish ambition. We tend toward striving for position and control. There is something in us that calls out to be recognized and acclaimed. The more sophisticated we grow in hiding this tendency, the more dangerous we become. Don’t try to smooth it over and subtly attempt to gain notoriety. Instead, recognize this tendency and choose not to be motivated by it.
Do nothing out of vain conceit or empty pride. How much of what we do in the name of “ministry” is about us rather than the Lord? How much do churches, pastors and people in churches compete with one another? Are we offended when people do not thank us? How about when someone else gets the credit, and people overlook us?
Parents do not have to train their children to say, “Me first.” When the teacher passes out treats or youngsters form a line at the water fountain, they declare, “Me first!”
Our society encourages us to “look out for number one.” This week let’s take note of the number of times we say in our thoughts, words or actions, “Me first.” Let’s ask the Lord to convict us and change us when we do.
Jesus calls us to say, “You first.”
Jesus did not simply pontificate on serving from a mountaintop. He hung on loosely to His exalted position and came to live amongst us as a servant. Get to know the Master who came as a servant. Jesus’ heart is tender and compassionate. He did not strive for position and notoriety but laid it down. Read about Him in the Gospels. Ask Him to change your heart – He loves to do it!
It takes discipline and training to consider others first. We trained our children in this, but this is not a virtue that only youngsters should learn. We should train our minds to think this way all through adulthood. Such training comes from a series of little choices made along the way.
It is a matter of trust. Do we believe God will look after us if we say, “You first”?
Selfish ambition and vain conceit would lure us into walking over others on our way to the top of the heap. Instead, the Lord calls us to serve with integrity and faithfulness with no intention of being noticed. He notices the servant that honours others and bestows honour upon such a servant.
G. K. Chesterton observed, “There is the great man who makes every man feel small, but the really great man is the man who makes every man feel great.”
To honour is to show esteem, respect or value. It is to preserve the dignity of others. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:10b, “Honour one another above yourselves.” NIV
Look at the people around you. They have flaws and imperfections, but we love the One who made them. Likewise, we should recognize the Lord’s value on other human beings. Realizing this inspires us to esteem and value them. Handle them with care. Honour them.
On April 15th, 1912, the unthinkable happened when the great ocean liner, the Titanic, sank in the Atlantic Ocean. Dr. James Dobson writes in “Bringing Up Boys” (pages 166-167):
On a frigid night, 1,509 people either drowned or froze to death near the Arctic Circle. My wife, Shirley, and I were fortunate to visit an exhibit in Boston that displayed some of the articles that have been recovered and preserved. Then we came to the last room of the exhibit, where the names of those who died were inscribed in alphabetical order on glass plates. What struck us both was the scarcity of females on the list. Indeed, 1,339 men died on that tragic night but only 114 women and 56 boys and girls. Why this disparity? Because, with very few exceptions, husbands and fathers gave their lives to save their wives and children. It was one of history’s most stirring examples of sacrificial love [and, I would add, of honour]. Those doomed men disappeared into the icy waters of the Atlantic in order that their loved ones might survive to see another day. That is why the Titanic is called the “Ship of Widows” to this day.
Will we commit to treating others with honour? This month practice the discipline of saying in your thoughts, words and actions, “You first”:
Open the door for someone.
Let someone have your parking spot.
Give someone else the first choice.
Let these little habits form in us so that we are ready to consider others before ourselves when the big decisions come along.