Previous posts in the Live Alive series can be found here.
Well, here we are. Again the day has flown by and I haven't gotten to get any thoughts down on the screen to share with you all. Daily writing is so fun, but this week has been a little more hectic that expected - we have an injured pet and plans to go away for the weekend. But after a particularly emotional Monday, the week has looked up and I praise God for how He's been hearing my prayers for increased dependence on Him. I mean, I do really prefer the comfortable and predictable, but not much growth that happens in that cozy corner, eh?
That brings us to today's topic: Others Before Self. God wants us to purse Him, and one of the ways we do that is by living out His love in the world in the way Christ did. Paul says in Philippians 2:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Guys, this his hard! Every fiber of our human nature wants to look only to our own interests and perhaps to the interests of others if it is to our advantage. But our Lord lived so differently:
Have this mind among yourselves which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him ... .
Jesus, the only one who had any right to claim superiority over or service and praise from every other human, did exactly the opposite. He humbled Himself. And when He calls us to follow Him He also bids us to come and die, to self. Christ is more than our example; He's our Savior and Lord who doesn't ask more of us that He was willing to do Himself. Let us also not forget that He sent His Spirit to equip and help us to choose humility, too.
Alive people are people of action. They take Christ seriously when they remember that He said:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? Luke 9:23-25
The two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as our self. (Matthew 22:36-40) Much of the time the way we express our love for God is by our obedience to His command to love our neighbor. Alive people are like this, loving God by humbling themselves so they can love their neighbor. You all know folks for whom it is like second nature. I would guess that it wasn't always that way for them, and they would tell you stories of how much practice it took to become more loving.
With all the pressure this week, I feel like I have been racing against time to keep up with daily responsibilities. Monday afternoon, feeling too unfocused to accomplish anything else and knowing rain was coming Tuesday, I headed outside to race the sun and get some necessary raking done. I had about an hour to get the leaves down the hill, onto the tarp, and out to the curb. Part way through I told the kids to come out to get in a few sleds down the hill into the leaves before I dragged them all away. My youngest was particularly delighted! And of course, after a couple of runs, she wanted me to sled with her too.
My initial reaction was to say, "No, I'm in a rush here." But I felt that good Holy Spirit prick with the truth that a sled ride or two would really not set me back that much. Love your neighbor as yourself.
This lively little girl was so thrilled to take a couple of runs down the hill in a green saucer with her mama. I got all the leaves to the curb with a little daylight to spare, we picked up our pet's medicine, dinner wasn't too late, and I got in a little practice at choosing another over myself.
I don't always.
I do love my Lord so much that I am saddened by how often I won't give up my time, talents, or reputation to love Him and my neighbor. Isn't it wonderful that He is so long-suffering and that His mercies are so great and new every morning? Alive people remember that, too!
There are many specific ways to live alive by loving our neighbor, whether it's someone in our home, our town, at work, school, a friend, or an enemy. Over the next few or many posts, I'll share some of those.