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Philippians 2: 3 – 5

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.   Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.

This is so counter-cultural that, frankly, it is difficult for us to incorporate it into our lifestyle. We are actually supposed to put the needs and desires of others before our own wants. For most of us this is beyond difficult. In truth, we rarely even recognize the opportunities which pass by us, opportunities to be a little less selfish. I received one of those opportunities recently and it gave me a chance to examine whether my theology was integrated into my lifestyle or just a collection of pretty thoughts and ideals.

I had to take my car in for routine maintenance. I took my book hoping that I could get a little of my class reading done while awaiting my car. Well, there is a television in the waiting room. I usually prefer not to have a television on so that I can read without distraction. But you know what – it’s not all about me. There were other people there waiting for their cars too. At first it appeared that no one was listening to the TV so I was going to ask them if they minded me turning the volume down. No sooner, however, did I think that thought than this scripture came to mind. Why did the situation need to revolve around my desires or even needs. “Well,” I thought, “if no one is listening to it, what does it bother for me to ask?” But God responded to me instantly. Have you ever noticed that when you really don’t want to hear God it is really easy to hear His voice? Well, anyway, God showed me that the other people there, though they did not appear to be paying attention to the TV, might be enjoying having it on in the background. If I had asked they likely would have consented even though it wasn’t what they wanted. My pursuit of my desires would have put them in an awkward position where they may feel compelled to consent. Why should the world bend and contort to meet my perceived needs?

All of this happened in a flash but I knew this was a point of personal growth. What was more important to me, reading my Christian book for my doctorate in Theology or living my theology? Was it better to put my need for silence at the forefront or to let Jesus lead me and teach me about his divine outlook? Happily Dad spoke in my ear before I could open my mouth. Would it have been a huge sin had I put my needs first? Well, I don’t know. A sin is a sin, isn’t it? I don’t think Dad would have been horribly mad at me but He would see that I just wasn’t ready to grow up. 

As it turns out, I learned more not getting to do my homework than had I imposed my will on the others. Look around you today. Are there ways you can be a blessing to others? Maybe it is just about not being so concerned about what you want or what you perceive you need. There is an opportunity out there for each of us. I hope you find yours.

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