Putting Others First

“Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.1 Corinthians 10:24 NIV.

The simple secret to joy is Jesus first, others second, and then yourself.

My thoughts and comments today are about “putting others first.”

Life in God’s Kingdom means accepting a vastly different value system. The Bible says, “Let no one seek His own [good], but each one the other’s well-being.” 1 Corinthians 10:24. If you are honest with yourself, you know that is not natural to any of us; it’s hard to do and easy to forget. The natural tendency is toward selfishness, smartly camouflaged a bit but still selfish.

When I was a child, joy was explained to me this way, “The secret to joy is Jesus first, others second, and then yourself — J-O-Y!” That’s how life is supposed to work, and the only way that it works best all the time.

EDL pix JOYTrying any other order makes life confusing, more work, and less satisfying than it ought to be. I confess that I should be better at this than I am. My Mom was a consistent example of someone who put Jesus and others first, and my sweet wife, Gayle, is the same.

But that’s not the natural order for any of us. Adapting to the surrounding culture is easier because it comes more naturally than the Kingdom’s culture. That philosophy of life reads this way, “Me first, everyone else second, and some not at all.” Me first, first in line, first for advantage, first with privilege, first in consideration and leftovers for everyone else. You live in a “me first” world, and it will be hard to resist the temptation to think that is the only way you will survive.

We are often like the disciples, squabbling over who will have prominence and will be the greatest. Too much of life is wasted maneuvering for position, manipulating for influence, finagling for advantage, and subtly moving toward the front of the line. But Jesus told them the simplest and truest secret to joy, “To be the greatest, be a servant . . those who think themselves great shall be disappointed, but those that humble themselves shall be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12 TLB.

Have you noticed that the most gracious and selfless people are the most genuinely happy? Look around you; the most benevolent of people are the most content and fulfilled. Those who are always keeping score and making sure they get first place or the bigger share are too busy with themselves of for thoughts of others. That’s a very poor, lonely way to live.

And that’s where you face one of the great decisions of everyday life. Will I do what God says is right and best long term, or will I do what feels right to me now? In your heart you know that is best, but it doesn’t set right to your self-centered nature. Living in the Kingdom of God means embracing this heart changing truth, “It is not about you; it’s all about Him.” And He makes it about others too. “Be kindly affectionate to one another, in honor giving preference to one another.” Romans 12:10.

Jesus taught, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like the first, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39.You may wish it were otherwise. You may see that with most others, it is otherwise. But you must choose if obedience to God is the path you select.

Today, my prayer for you is to choose the way that is right, not the way that feels right.