In our culture, there is the idea that self is most important.  What are some ways that our world shows that?  Well take a look at these:

  • Olympics-the goal is Gold…even in sports where teams and individuals compete (gymnastics/swimming), the focus is rarely on the team but the individual races or competitions.
  • Planes-oxygen masks- At the beginning of the instructional period on a flight, you are told that if the oxygen masks fall, to place yours on first then help others.  Does that really seem right if you have a child sitting with you?
  • American Dream-The American dream is coming from nothing and turning into something important.  Dare I say that the Bible teaches the opposite?  Coming from something important (in our own eyes) and turning into nothing (in our own eyes).
  • Lines (cutting)-There is always the attitude of, my problem is bigger than yours, therefore I feel no hesitation in cutting in line or disregarding others.  This really gets us fired up.  And what do we do in return?  First confrontation, then if that doesn’t work…we cut in front of them; that will show them.

This is not how Christians should live.  The idea that self is more important than anything else can get in the way of very important things.  It can get in the way of us knowing God and serving his children.

First, it can get in the way of God, which is most important.  Matthew 22:37-38 says, “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”  We see that God is the most important thing.  We are to love him with all we have.  Not with the leftovers, but with the cream of the crop.  When we put our self first, God cannot be first.  There is only room for one at the top.

Look at Matthew 22:39 “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”   What does this mean?  It does not say anything about loving yourself, and then loving your neighbor.  The focus is on others second.  It means look at the world around you.  The way people love themselves, that is the way you should love others.  First God, Second Others, Third Self.

This is completely counter-cultural to our lives.  Especially as a youth, there is the idea that everything revolves around you.  I know this is true because I have thought it when I was in my youth.  There is no thought about other people, because self has always been first.

When you were first born, who did you care about most?  Yourself…always crying and wanting something.  When you become a young child, it is all about getting things that you want.  It doesn’t matter the cost…you just want it.  As a youth, it switches to the fact that you know everything and anyone that tries to argue with you has to be wrong.  You want everyone to see your side of the argument but you don’t want to see anyone else’s.  As a young adult, you believe that you have the way to fix any situation.  That if you could only be in charge, everything would be different.  As a middle aged adult, you focus on work and upkeeping the social status that you have built.  Instead of helping others grow theirs, you look to keep or grow your own.  As a senior adult, you speak only of your past.  How everything in your day was so much better than today…if only people would just listen to you.

These of course are the majority.  I know people at all age ranges, except maybe the infant age, that are not selfish and do want to focus on other’s needs and wants.  This however is a small group compared to the number of people in the world.

We have to train ourselves to be last.  It is instinctual to want to be first.  The first sin was because they wanted to be like God…like the best.

Luke 9:48 says, “and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”  He who is least…is greatest.  Why?  Because when we recognize we are the least, then God can use us and we can be flexible with his plan and will.  When we are first, we don’t need God.

My challenge is not a simple one.  Be last…put yourself last.  No, not fail on purpose, but in EVERYTHING, consider your wants and needs after you consider God’s and everyone else’s.  Do not be overcome with pride.  Put God first, then others, then yourself.

There is always the issue of depression.  This could cause you to lose self-esteem, but remember that when you are last, in God’s eyes you are the greatest.  A lot of pastors and Christians struggle with this because they are always serving others and they become depressed and some commit suicide, but the goal is not less self-worth, but a caring and loving attitude toward God and others…at all times.  Remember that you are loved and are never alone.  If all else seems fading and uncaring, know that God is with you and completely loving you.

In Christ’s Love,

Josh

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