The Bible is clear: God wants to speak to people in a very personal way. Christianity was never meant to be a monologue. He loves us, and when you turned your life over to Christ, at that moment you became His Son. John wrote, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). A good dad loves to speak to his child.
Sometimes God speaks an encouraging word. It is sad that many Christians have never experienced this because their only filter for God’s voice is one of harshness. The only time they believe God is speaking is when He is beating them up. I know a man once who literally said, “If I do not leave church feeling a little condemned, I don’t feel like I have gone to church.”
Sometimes God delivers a convicting word.
And then, there are times God comes with a simple word to take you to another level. He wants to deposit something in you. He wants you to wrestle with something. He wants you to call out to the Holy Spirit to teach you and form you into the revelation he is sharing. This is what has been happening to me this week. For about 4 days now, I cannot escape the New Testament idea that as a follower of Christ, I am to put other people’s needs before my own.
Matthew 22:39 – The 2nd Greatest Commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Philippians 2:3-4 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Romans 12:10 “…in honor giving preference to one another.”
More specifically, God has been showing me this in the context of my marriage. Jesus, who without doubt modeled this for us, calls us to a life of putting other people’s needs first. This does not mean that you are a doormat for an abusive person to take advantage of you. This does not mean that you are being selfish when you allow someone to serve you and put you first. This does not mean that you are only to give and never receive. This does not mean that you can’t ever say, “No.”
What it does mean is that, as an overall attitude and daily practice, I am to put other people’s needs first. This is easy to say and easy to preach, but let’s be honest, how many of us are genuine enough in our faith that we have taken this aspect of Christ to heart? The Lord has been telling me this week that He wants me to embrace, with all my heart, this preferring-others-first mentality toward my wife. I have a long ways to go. It is even more convicting that my wife so often models this toward me. I can’t do it alone. I need the Holy Spirit to supernaturally work from the inside-out as I play my heart. My job is to ask for this kind of heart and then step out and live like I have it until it becomes me. The Holy Spirit will take the mask I am stepping into and work it into the fabric of my being. That is what I want. I want this first and foremost as a person that follows Christ, not as a pastor. The Lord wants me to model Christ first in my home, not last.
So this is what Jesus has been messing with me about this week. I love the Lord and I want to please Him. I have always loved the simplicity of Paul’s statement in Colossians 1:10: “…that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him…” Fully pleasing him. Yes.
So, are you a Christian? Then the Scripture is speaking to you. Does everyone have to cater to you or do you cater to others? I am not talking about being a people-pleaser. I am talking about laying down your life to meet other people’s needs in the name of Jesus. It may be something that takes 5 seconds or 5 minutes. Matter of fact, if you will start small, it will grow on you. It is in the small things that values take root and grow in our hearts. Put others first. If you are married, put him/her first. I’m serious. Really put them first. You might even ask your spouse what that would look like. Let your spouse help by telling you how you can better serve him/her.
When you are tired, put others first.
When you are frustrated, put others first.
When you want to shoot off your mouth, put others first.
When someone needs food, put others first.
When you do not want to give up time to serve in some capacity in the local church, put others first.
When you do not want to stop by the grocery store but your spouse needs something, put others first.
When you want to quietly manipulate someone once again because you know you can get your way, put others first.
When you think you are right and want to stand your ground, put others first.
Will you and I follow Christ with ALL our hearts? I want to. It is easy to raise hands to a worship song or even read your Bible. But will you put others first? Especially those closest to you? This is where the rubber meets the road.