Who Do You Serve?

Let’s be honest, ladies, we all serve somebody.  So who do you serve?  I suspect the answer for most of us is “myself.”  That’s not only our sinful inclination, it’s what our world tells us to do.  “Look out for number one.”  “Follow your bliss.”  “Do what feels right for you.”  Our culture bombards us with messages like this every day.  Let’s label it with its’ true name –SELFISHNESS.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with this sin every day.  Here are a few examples:

My husband forgets to pick up the something I needed on his way home from work.  My default response?  How could he!  I do so many things for him, and he can’t remember this one thing for ME?

My daughter calls and asks me to go to the Dollar Store and pick up something for her class (she is a preschool teacher). She lost track of time and didn’t get to it last night.  REALLY?  What makes this MY responsibility?  I have my own plans for the morning.

Somebody from church calls.  We’re selling  cobblers at the local Peach Festival and need somebody to work at the stand.  OH NO!  I’m an introvert and I’M JUST NOT COMFORTABLE around a crowd of strangers.  Don’t ask me to do that.

My friend is totally uninterested in the new project in which I’m so involved.  She’s MY friend,why isn’t she being more supportive of ME?

Anyway, you get the idea.  My first response is to think of myself, what I want, and what seems most comfortable and convenient for me.  Here’s what Jesus says about that:

“He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27

That means our priorities should go like this:

  1. God
  2. Others
  3. Me

This doesn’t mean we can never say no.  Sometimes we must say no;  sometimes it is better for the other person if we say no;  sometimes we need to say no because something is definitely out of our skill set. It also doesn’t mean we don’t hold folks accountable or express our feelings — but we need to do this in a gentle, respectful way, not in anger.  It does mean that as God’s servants, we can’t allow a selfish mindset to control our actions.  Following our own impulses (i.e. serving ourselves) will lead to conflict and broken relationships.  Serving God and doing His will leads to peace with God and others. So who do you want to serve?

 

 

 

Advertisements

Putting Others First

 

Years ago, in Economics 101, I was taught that self interest is the primary motivator of economic activity. Although we may have a number of reasons for working, going to school or deciding how to spend our money, at the core every decision we make is personal well being, or gain. You might say self interest is our default position.  Adam Smith put it this way in his book, The Wealth of Nations”:

 

“It is not from the benevolence (kindness) of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

 

In other words, the seemingly helpful things we do for others are not really selfless. Deep down we do the things we do out of a desire to make life better for ourselves. You could say that self interest is just a nicer way of describing selfishness or sinful behavior.  It comes naturally because it’s built into our DNA – at least, that’s what Lutherans believe. We are sinful creatures from the moment of conception. It is indeed, our default position. That doesn’t mean we are just to accept it. Christianity calls us to consciously reverse our natural inclinations. We are called to live sacrificially, which means putting others first.  Compare Adam Smith’s quote to what St. Paul has to say:

 

“Do nothing out of selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal self interests, but also the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

 

For a look at what this means in daily living, read the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37.  Here’s what Martin Luther King Jr. said about this parable:

 

“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me? But … the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

 

Can I change my default position? Can I put others first, even when it requires a sacrifice of my own needs and wants? Not on my own! “Wretched man (or woman) that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?”(Romans 7:24) Only Jesus Christ!

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

1 Peter 2:21

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!