Hey friends, how are you today? How was your week? Today, heavy, dark clouds have completely covered the skies. Although September usually signals the start of the fall season, there is hardly any sign of it, in our neck of the woods. The rains have kept the trees heavy laden with big, green leaves, still thick enough to hide the birds and the squirrels. The birds still find shelter in the trees; their wake-up songs or calls can be heard even now, for which I am very thankful. I love early mornings and rainy days, especially during this time of the year. Because it is a bit chillier, the cozy, comfortable robe feels so very good. My piping hot coffee (because what is cold coffee?) and cinnamon and apple scented candle makes the perfect fall morning, even though creation hasn’t yet caught on.
How are you today, really? My good friend Vickie posted a comment on a recent blog post, using the JOY acronym; Jesus-Others-You. Jesus first, others next and me last. Do you know that’s an impossible task without the Lord? Absolutely impossible! The truth is mankind (all of mankind) is so innately selfish, that even when we do works of kindness, usually it is done with ‘me’ in mind. I very rarely admit it, but I am convinced that perhaps more of my ‘works’ will ‘go through the fire and come out as ash’ because although it may have not been intentional, I performed for my own glory.
I would even dare to say, that only Christians have the ability to put others genuinely first because of the Christ in us. First, as in sacrificially doing something with the expectation that I will get nothing in return (at least not from that person). And I would dare even further and say that it is only when I put Jesus first, as in His Word is ever before me, that I am able to put the needs of others before mine. Putting others before me isn’t automatic just because I am Christian. It doesn’t become instinctive just because I am saved. It must be (here’s that word again) intentional.
Do you know when it is instinctive to put others first? When I compare myself to them and find them lacking. Recently a friend, after a really good sermon, said to me she wished this person had attended the service because she definitely needed to hear what was said. She (the missing person) could have made some adjustments to her attitude if she had been there. Although I was pretty good on that day and suggested perhaps the message was intended for those had actually attended, the Lord (as He does, when you least desire Him to) brought me back to the times, I had done the exact same thing.
When ‘others’ become my standard, it isn’t hard to find them lacking or even to find me lacking, is it? In both cases, it still proves selfishness exist and me-ism is at the forefront of my actions. Instead of growing in grace by acknowledging the changes the Lord desires in my life, all I see is that comparatively, I am better in these ways than that person, because I haven’t sinned in this nor in that. I’ve weighed my sin against theirs and have pronounced myself ‘not guilty’.
It is hard to put others before us, that’s the truth of the matter. In fact, it is harder to put Jesus first in our lives. Life, according to the world, is designed to place the Lord at the bottom of our things to do. Indeed, we hurry to do good and leave the Lord out of our goodness. Without Him first, there is no putting others before me. Remember, we are targets for the enemy in his battle against the God of the universe.
But we know that end of the story, do we not? We know that victory is already ours and there is absolutely nothing the enemy can do about it. We know that we have been given everything we need to be godly in this godless world.
We have been warned that difficult times come and that most of the difficulty arises from my attitude toward the problem. Our fears, anxieties, worries can all be laid at the feet of Jesus, which leaves room to put the needs of others before mine. Because I know that I know that I know the God I serve is more than capable of holding me, with all my mountains and all my valleys, because He is All-mighty and All-powerful, I have the choice now to put others before me. It is slightly easier today than it was yesterday and because it is my desire to ‘think more highly of others’ then I begin with the simplest but most powerful action which is prayer. I bring the ‘others’ in my life before the most Holy and Powerful God. I ask Him to show me how I can serve them, and I say, ‘please be glorified in this’.
How are you today?