Posted by: mikenicholsblog | January 8, 2017

the person right in front of you

When is the next holiday?! It may just be me, but the first week of the New Year moved at a fast clip. Between eating properly, working out, attending meetings, phone calls, going to a funeral and a myriad of other events, I can already feel myself needing a holiday to recuperate. You may be feeling the same way. As I have been reading the book of Matthew this week, I’ve wondered about the pace that Christ must have kept. From my perception, the demands on Christ far exceeded what any of us will encounter this year. Yet His pace reflected what was important, and His days were directed toward others.

A quick read through Matthew (a book that bridges us from the Old Testament to the New) shows the demands on Christ. He healed the sick, fed the five thousand, taught, calmed a storm, debated the Sabbath, told parables, fed the four thousand, walked on the water … the list goes on … and on.  And I think I am busy and need to recuperate! Sure, He was God, but He walked among mankind and gave us undeniable examples of how to live in our world. When the disciples wanted to send the five thousand away, Jesus made sure they were fed. In scene after scene throughout Matthew we find the needs of people being a priority to Jesus. It is too easy for me (and maybe you) to focus on my needs rather than to reflect the love of Christ to others.

Some key thoughts have grabbed my attention this week in looking at Christ. His life was a battle, just like ours (and even more so). He was attacked by Satan, and gained victory through quoting God’s Word. So can I! He showed compassion to others, even when it may have been taxing physically. So can I! He spent time with the Father and prayed. So can I! Now, I would like to be able to heal, walk on water, calm the storm and multiply the loaves and fishes, but that’s not for us. However, to model the way He defeated Satan, cared for others and effectively communicated with the Father are undeniable examples of how we can live with distinction this year. The question is… how highly do we value these attributes?

In the familiar passage from Matthew on ‘taking up our cross and following Christ,’ the following words of Christ give us a very clear perspective.

If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.
Matthew 10:38-39 (MSG)

When our first concern is ourselves (and it often is), others lose and we certainly don’t communicate well with the Father. But when you and I forget about personal agendas and look to Him, things change. Christ was all about others … and the world was changed. When you and I model His life, the Lord will use us for change. Forgetting about ourselves and looking to Him is admittedly not easy, but the results will be undeniable. As the demands of this year heat up, remember that others need you, and Christ will guide you.

One of my favorite quotes of all time relates to how Christ focused on others. Dr. Richard Swenson made this statement (which I fully believe): “The focus of Christ’s ministry was always the person right in front of Him.” If you and I will just seek to allow the person in front of us to be the focus of our ministry … Wow, what a year it will be!

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