"The Lord is first; my family and friends are second; I am third."
Gale Sayers - football player, writer, entrepreneur, motivational speaker
Like many people, as the New Year approaches I'm looking at the priorities that I desire to take into 2008. I remember reading the autobiography "I Am Third," by Gale Sayers many years ago and being impressed with the priorities that he set down there.
When asked "which is the great commandment in the Law?" Jesus responded "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 foremost commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
Focusing on the second commandment for a minute, I'd like to propose a "strategy" for myself and for you. The message of Christ is consistently one of sacrificial love. He died so that we might have eternal life. We know this. But Scripture reiterates it over and over again. Philippians 2:3-4 says it well,
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."
The strategy I propose is simply this: I put others first. Others' desires, passions, wishes, tastes, interests, priorities, values, ideas, direction come before my own. How do I know what they are? To implement the strategy and know what they are I have to show an interest in others and ask questions. Does this mean I would act unethically or immorally if others wanted it? No. Does this mean that I would ungraciously demand that others' wishes be acted upon if they in-turn deferred to my wishes? No. But these things rarely happen on a day-to-day basis. On a day-to day basis, I have a "help" that God has provided for me to practice with.
What usually happens is that I want to eat a certain thing for dinner and my spouse wants something else. I want to see a certain movie and my wife wants to see another. I have a passion for this time consuming activity and my wife has another passion that would take the same time. I value money and things and Gwen values people and relationships. Does this means that I die to myself? That I no longer exist? Yes....and no. This is the mystery of Christianity. My natural self dies. My fleshly desires and spirit die. My godly spirit is re-born....it lives. Sacrificial love lives in me....if I exercise it.
Consider the meaning of Galatians 5:24, "Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." and of Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me..." and of John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease." These are the priorities that I want to take into 2008 and beyond. I am third. God help me...and you too!
Happy New Year! Kim