One of the hardest things is not being so stuck on myself. From the moment we begin life, we are all about self. We look out for ourselves. We want to be fed. We want to be rested. We want to be comfortable. When we learn to talk, we share about ourselves. Self. Self. Self.
When we have conversations, we go from our youthful days of asking questions and trying to learn to enjoying conversations where we talk about our day, our thoughts, our life. We don’t ask questions so much. We don’t fully listen in conversations. Instead we dominate the conversation and only listen to respond.
The Bible tells us to take an interest in others and to want the best for them. This starts with getting to know the heart of a person. Spend time with the person. Listen to them. Build a relationship. Invest in the person. Get to know about the person and be a part of their life. Relationship building is intentional. As you read the Gospel, you will note that Jesus took interest in people. He invested in people. He didn’t look out for His own interests. He sought out the very best for others, all while walking in faithful obedience to the Father. Today, take an interest. Invest. Love others.
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” – Philippians 2:4 [NLT]
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31
This past weekend was graduation. I walked into a room full of classmates uncertain of what to expect for the actual ceremony. We had practice the evening before, but I was not familiar with the different meaning of the cords and tassels that were being distributed. As I was handed my cords, I thought to myself, don’t I get the gold ones because most people were wearing gold cords. It seemed to me that the thing to have was those gold cords. I had to ask what the different cords meant to understand how things work and to my surprise, I was given different cords because I was the Class Salutatorian and therefore had these other colored cords for the honors.
This got me thinking about how we always seem to drift toward that which is common among others. If we see most people driving a particular car, buying a particular television, making a particular amount of money, participating in certain events, getting particular grades, etc., we want to do that too because everyone seems to be doing it so isn’t that the way to go?
The issue is that God made us unique and we shouldn’t be considering our performance based on how others are doing in life. We should see our worth in Christ and find our identity there alone. For some of us, we will get gold cords. For others, we won’t reach the gold cords. For some, we will get the spots above the gold cords. The cord color changes with each situation in life. But at the end of the day, we need to remember to follow the path God has presented and not look to get a gold cord at all, even if most everyone has the gold cords. It could be possible that He wants to do something else for you, something that will bring Him greater glory.
Today, I challenge you to see if you have been aiming for gold cords in an area of your life when God wants to do so much more to display His glory to those around you.
“I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.” – Psalm 86:12
I recently moved and I’ve had to make a lot of phone calls to get some things organized. I noticed that while I was getting everything in order, that I hesitated to make the telephone calls. I looked to see if I could contact people online instead of making the actually physical phone calls. When I had to initiate my internet, I decided to active online. When I had difficulties, I even chatted with a representative because I felt it would be quicker and not eat up my cell phone minutes. At the same time, I really did not want to be on the telephone.
I didn’t find anything to be a problem until I noted that I had some things left to do, and everything on the list was what needed actual telephone calls. I had avoided making the calls. I was disconnected. This was something we spoke about in my media ministry course last semester. Our society has gotten so accustomed to communicating online and with technology that there is this great lack of people being connected with people. We even send a text message or chat on Facebook with people who are in the same room.
I am not against technology. I love technology. However, I think that we need to make sure that we do not spend so much time with technology that we try so hard to not connect with people in person and on the telephone. Sometimes people need to know that a real person cares about them, that another actual human being was thinking about them enough to take the time to call or to stop by for a visit.
I see a lot of images on Facebook depicting a cell phone screen shot showing God calling or sending a text message. The image is accompanied with the question on whether a person would answer and respond or not. I like that image because it makes a statement about society– that we are very much into technology– but that God meets us where we are at in life. At the same time, I believe He also would stop by and visit. He would sit with you and spend the afternoon together. He would call and send a text message. God wants to be connected to you. In John 15, Jesus speaks about the need for the disciples to stay connected to the vine. If the branches are unattached, they will not bear fruit.
Today you might be busy, overwhelmed with a list of things to do that surely will take you most of the day. You may not think you have the time to visit or call anyone. Perhaps you are tired and simply don’t feel like taking the initiative. I challenge you to make some time, visit or call someone you haven’t talked to in awhile, and simply enjoy their company. You may need the call more than they do. Also, spend time with God. Remember the branch cannot do much when unattached to the vine. He’s always available!
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” – Romans 12:9-10 [NLT]
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 [NASB]