Posted by: mikenicholsblog | April 27, 2017

others first

Without question, most Christ-followers understand the need to focus on others and refuse to live with a self-centered ideology. The problem for every Christ-follower is that understanding is simple, but applying the principle of “others first” is an altogether different story. Have you ever stepped in front of someone at a grocery store, cut someone off on the highway, interrupted a spouse or friend as they were speaking (as though your words were more important) or spoke about a work associate in a way that reflected poorly on that person, all the while seeking to make yourself look good? We all have lived with “others first” logic while practicing “me first” living. Self-centeredness is common to us all, and unless there is an intentional focus on others, we live below God’s design.

Living an “others first” life is not about perfection, but progression! We will all stumble, but our life goals need to be wrapped around the will of God. Every true believer is an ambassador for Christ, and a “me first” mindset hinders our ambassadorship. Last week while reading the first two chapters of Philippians, I was struck several times with an other-centered focus.

I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.  Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith.
Philippians 1:23-25 (NLT)

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
Philippians 2:3-5 (NLT)

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT)

The apostle Paul wrote the book of Philippians, and there is no doubting the care he had for the believers there. Writing under the inspiration of God, he was promoting and also living an “others first” ideology. Paul also spoke of Christ and how He took on the form of man and died on a cross for our salvation. That is the ultimate in “others first” living. In Philippians chapter two, I was struck by the lives of Timothy and Epaphroditus who obviously exhibited a selfless lifestyle. In reading these two short chapters, I was challenged by the Word, the life of Jesus, Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus to be others-centered. It is counterintuitive to live this way. Our flesh cries out for the world to revolve around our needs, while the will of God challenges us to look beyond ourselves to the needs of others.

One of my favorite quotes is from Richard Swenson. I have written about it previously, and will always remember the words. It helps ground me in the battle with me-centered living.  

“The focus of Christ’s ministry was always the person standing in front of him.”

When I take the time to minister to the person in front of me (and not only on my agenda), life is different, people are impacted, and the will of God gets done.

So what difference do these words make? Absolutely none, unless we take the challenge to intentionally live them. Without being too forward, may I ask you to consider the same question I myself need to answer? “Who are the others in my life that are being impacted meaningfully?” None of us can fix yesterday (so don’t look back), but there are people all around us who need what we have to offer. God’s will for all Christ-followers involves others! Will you do His will?

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