Thursday, January 15, 2009

Putting Others First

Not long ago I overheard my father talking to one of my children about the old “JOY” formula. You might also remember it from our Sunday School days. We were told that we should prioritize our relationships “Jesus-Others-Yourself”. I think that many Christ followers would say that the more they get to know Jesus the more natural it is to put him first. That’s what it means to make Him the Lord of our life. The question then turns to how do I put others before myself? How can I do so and make myself last? Compared to the Lordship of Jesus, this doesn’t seem to come as naturally for God’s people either. We don’t stand in line at the grocery store and let everyone go first until the cashier has no one in line except for that last humble Christian with all the JOY from letting others go first. We feel it is good enough to be polite. Perhaps, maybe, “thinking” of others first. There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Galatians 5:21) In the original language of the New Testament, the word submit means “order yourself under”. Some Bible commentators say that it’s like a military command to line up in rank. It means to take action, personally, to move to a place that is under the other person. People like to be above not below. We fail to see that the place below is a place where real love and service can be shown, where we can lift others up. Typically, we “climb” the ladder of success we don’t descend on it. I’ve often asked young engaged couples why they would want to put their partner “first?” The most typical answer I hear is “Because I love her/him.” But that’s not the Biblical answer. The verse from Galatians says we do this because of our relationship with Christ. So, the JOY formula must have Jesus first and descending a ladder of success makes sense to His people. Jesus did that when He came to save us. He taught that to be great in God’s kingdom, we will learn to be the servant of all.