“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV).
In a “me first” society, it’s easy to constantly be thinking, “What’s in it for me?” when asked to carry out a request, go the extra mile, or just obey, no questions asked. However, if you’re a Christ follower, God asks you to think differently. Instead of putting ourselves first, He wants us to follow His example and put ourselves last. He wants us to show compassion for others by loving them with a servant’s heart.
The best examples are found from Jesus Himself, the night before He hung on the cross. In John 13, it tells us: “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him…When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” John 13:3-5, 12-17 (NIV).
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in an “us-versus-them” mentality when thinking about ourselves and others. Before I know it, comparisons are made and I’m viewing my life, my accomplishments, or my agenda as more important than that of those around me. It can be as simple as using the 12 Items or Less line at the grocery store with my 50 items because I’m late, which inconveniences those who legitimately have 10 items. Or it could be throwing my weight around at work after a promotion, all of a sudden thinking I’m too important or too busy to help with the project I started and have the most experience with. What about something as simple as forcing my child to clean up after the dog, or vacuum, or wash the dishes because I’m tired and my favorite show is coming on?
However, that’s not the model Christ wants us to be for our friends, co-workers, family members, or strangers. He wants us to have a servant heart when interacting with others. How can we make life easier for them? I’m not saying take responsibility away from others, but what about coming alongside them and helping them complete the job faster? What if I offered to give my children a choice in what chores they do and don’t do? How about actually offering to let someone go ahead of me in line at the grocery store who has only two items, even if I’m running a bit late?
You might ask, “So, are you telling me God expects me to be a doormat?” Nope, I’m not saying that either. But, I am saying this: It’s not about you! Is your action going to glorify God or do you seek to glorify yourself?
I’m constantly having to ask God on a regular basis to show me how I can glorify Him. My motto on a regular basis is, “It’s not about me.” I don’t want my actions, my behaviors, and my attitude to draw people closer to myself…I want all I do to reflect who I truly want to glorify, not just in this life, but for all eternity.
If when people see me, they begin to see a reflection of the God I serve, then I feel I’ve lived authentically. If they fail to see my Savior and instead only see a reflection of me, I’m doing something wrong and need to reexamine my motives, actions, and attitudes.
What are some ways you can start living an opposite world thinking lifestyle in your home, your community, or with your friends and coworkers? What are some barriers that make that type of living more difficult?
© 2013 Cheri Swalwell