“Take your final bow, exit stage left, and yield center stage to the One Heaven applauds.”
“All the world’s a stage, and men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances . .” “As You Like It,” Wm Shakespeare. The problem comes when a person does not know how and when to yield center stage to others. You cannot obey today’s verse while you too busy looking out for yourself to even notice the needs of others.
It is too common to be preoccupied with yourself primarily – and with some people, exclusively would better describe their preoccupation with self. Doing so leaves little room or time left for anyone else. Self! Everyone has one, and everyone has to learn to contend with it. Your self, like my self, loves the prominence and priority of being center stage – front of the line, center of attention. The Bible warns, “If you think you are too important . . you are only fooling yourself.” Galatians 6:3 NLT.
Now contrast that with the ways of Jesus. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind esteem others better than yourself. Let each of you look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond servant and coming in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:3-7 NKJV.
As Jesus humbled Himself before the presence and will of His Father as Paul described (See Philippians 2:3-11), so was our Lord humble and of no reputation in the company of His disciples as written by John. See John 13:1-17. Jesus is your model – before God and man the same – not what comes naturally to your proud and fallen self.
Here’s what Jesus said to you and me, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must forget himself, take up his cross every day, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23 TEV. Is it really possible to “forget yourself?” But then, would God ask you to do what is impossible for you? Probably not. Oh, there are moments when any one of us may rise nobly to the occasion, however rare and difficult that might seem. Maybe that’s why Jesus also emphasized your daily need for that, not occasionally but consistently “taking up your cross daily.”
We struggle because we are of the bloodline of Diotrephes, aptly described by John as one who “loves to have the preeminence.” 3 John 9 NKJV. There seem to be a lot of his kin still around today. The family crest bears their motto, “Me first!” Sound familiar? One who has to be the center of attention in very situation, who needs all the attention, battles to have the last word, insists upon your own way, has to always be right, must win the argument?
John learned the only way to break the addiction for attention is that. “Jesus must increase, but I must decrease . . He must become more important while I become less important . . He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:30 NAS/TEV/NLT. Paul understood this painful, spiritual necessity – the death to self, the crucifying of the flesh – “that in all things Christ might have the preeminence . . the supremacy . . the first place in everything.” Colossians 1:18 NKJV/NIV/TEV.
Know the time to take your bow, exit stage left and lead the applause for others, and yield center stage once and for all to the One for Whom all Heaven alone applauds, joining them with yours!
My prayer for you today is: let your first interest be in the well being of others.