Jesus demonstrated an “others first” model throughout His life. He exemplified this mindset in His death. Even today, Jesus continues His other’s first mentality by constantly advocating on our behalf with the Father. Living a life that puts others first is central to the message and character of Christ. The New Testament, and indeed the entire Bible, is saturated with stories of self-sacrifice and putting the needs of others before their own. This is how we are to live.
But living for others is in stark contrast to modern Western thinking. For us, it’s about getting ahead, acquiring all we can, and considering ourselves a little better than those around us. In His letter to the Philippians, Paul admonishes them to do everything in humility and to always consider others more important than themselves (Philippians 2:3). It’s a far cry from how we live our lives today.
Paul further instructs each member of the Church to not only look out for their own interests, but also the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). Sadly, this is not the way we live. Sure, we all have our moments of kindness and selflessness, but we spend most of our time consumed by selfishness. Think how you feel when a co-worker gets the promotion or assignment you wanted, or when your neighbor gets a new car. Are we excited for them or do we feel a tug of resentment and jealousy?
What if instead, we showed genuine excitement for the success of others? How might that change the way people look at us? Do you think they’d notice a difference in our lives? When people see someone with traits they admire, they want to get to know them and discover their secret. When we put others first, we shine the love of Jesus into their lives. The human inclination to want what they do not have will draw them to Christ. Perhaps they will respond, and perhaps they won’t. But the way we live should at least give them the impetus to investigate Jesus for themselves.
Putting others first does not come naturally. From the time we are born, we are striving to hold on to what is ours and take what is not. You don’t need to teach a child to be selfish, but you do need to teach them to share. Putting the needs of others first is what Christ always does for us, so naturally, Satan is all about doing the opposite. The devil continually tempts us to think of ourselves first, and in this way, we reflect him rather than Jesus.
When we surrender our lives to Christ, we give up any claim on our lives. In effect, we have abandoned selfishness. When we put others first, we show our lives are not our own. Putting others first means the way we live will look like Jesus. We will draw people to Him. He will shine and we will fade into the background. Then all anyone will see will be God. Selfishness has no place in the heart of a disciple of Jesus. Instead, we must live for the good of others and the glory of our King.