Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Putting Others First

Christians are commanded to put others before ourselves (Philippians 2:1-4; Romans 12:10; James 2:8,9). But this is not an easy thing to do. Take the example of King Saul and his son Jonathan. They had very different reactions to David. Saul hated David, a man who had done him no wrong, because David had greater fame.  In his jealousy and fear that David might replace him as king, Saul tried to kill him and ended up driving him into exile. But Jonathan, though Saul’s heir and the next in line to be king, befriended David and helped him. He even expressed the anticipation that David would one day be king and he would serve at David’s side (1 Samuel 23:17). How can we more like Jonathan than Saul?

We need to start by realizing that God is in control of our lives (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11; Isaiah 43:13). Also, He is at work in them to accomplish His purposes (Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 1:28,29; 2 Corinthians 3:5,6). This means we can trust Him with our lives  (Psalms 127:1,2; 37:3-6; Proverbs 3:5,6). It does not mean that we do not work hard and do our best at what we do (1 Corinthians 10:31; Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-25). But at the end of the day, we put it in God’s hand. We do not have to fight and claw our way up at the expense of other people (James 3:13-18; Galatians 5:15; Romans 12:14-21). Nor should we try to judge our own place in the gallery of fame, but trust God to judge it (1 Corinthians 4:3-5; Romans 14:4; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Therefore, we need to trust God with our place in life, even if it is not what we would have wanted. Jonathan saw God’s plan to make David king and accepted it, even if it meant loss of position for himself. Saul also perceived God’s plan but rejected it, at least most of the time (1 Samuel 24:20).

But today we have an even clearer example than Jonathan. That example is the Lord Jesus Christ, who came down from heaven to die a criminal’s death to save us from sin, and who calls us to follow in His footsteps (Philippians 2:5-11;  2 Corinthians 8:9; Mark 10:42-45). Further, as a result of this salvation we are put in a secure place before God (Romans 8:31-39; 5:1,2; Galatians 4:4-7) if we put our faith in Christ (Romans 4:4,5; Ephesians 2;8,9; Philippians 3:9). This results in a desire to serve God (Titus 2:11-14; 1 John 4:19; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15) by loving others (Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:13,14; Matthew 22:36-40). Which puts us in the position where we can truly trust God and put others first. This is not always easy. Our pride and jealousy get in the way. But it is what we are commanded to do.

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