Have you ever gone to someone’s house—maybe for a party—and walked in to find a table loaded with all of your favorite snacks?! You know the stuff I’m talking about—Oreos, popcorn, chicken wings, cheeseballs (not the healthy ones served with crackers, I’m talking the bright orange cheeto-like cheeseballs that come in a giant plastic tub). I get hungry just thinking about it.
Awhile back, my dad and I had the opportunity to go to a NASCAR race. One of the companies we use to help with marketing—a company to which we pay a lot of money—had given us two free tickets. We arrived early, and found out that not only did we have some of the best seats in the house—air conditioned seats in a booth with a view of the entire track—but we would also be served FREE food, snacks and sodas for the entire race. It was like a dream-come-true.
The race started, and we were thrilled with the experience, how could it get ANY better. 30 minutes later, it got better. A guy with shiny covered dishes came in, and filled a table with a barbeque buffet. Ribs, baked beans—I mean, the works! I was first in line, and filled my plate to overflowing.
20 minutes later, they brought in some more food! But before I could get up, the guy in charge made an announcement:
“We brought in some more food because not everyone got some the first time around. A few people grabbed too much, and didn’t leave any for the rest of us. If you’ve already had some, please do not come back up until everyone has been served.”
You know that feeling you get when you realize you did something wrong? I got that feeling. When I had filled my plate with food, it hadn’t occurred to me that there were other people in the room who also wanted food. I didn’t mean to be selfish, but I had been so focused on myself that I had ignored everyone else.
This week, you and I will have PLENTY of opportunities to pursue our own interests. More than that, we live in a culture that tells us we should. If you’re a student, our culture is going to tell you that it’s all about getting good grades, and proving to colleges or graduate schools that you’re better than everyone else. If you have a job, the world tells you to push other people out of the way to get to the top—to prove to your boss that you are the best so you will get a promotion or raise. I work in marketing, the WHOLE POINT of marketing is to prove we are the superior company with the superior product. We live in a culture defined by pursuing our own interests.
But, according to Paul, Jesus taught us to live differently—Christians have a different calling:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
That day at the NASCAR race, I was there to have fun. It was a chance to hang out with my dad, enjoy a race and eat free food. But in my pursuit of my own interests, I rejected the opportunity to serve others. What if I had loaded up a plate, and then handed it to someone else? What if I filled plates to overflowing for other people? I bet the guy in charge of the booth would not have been mad at me. He may have even asked me why I put others first, and then I could have told him about how Jesus put him and me first.
Today—and this week—you and I will be given a BUNCH of opportunities to be intentional Christians and humbly serve others by pursuing what’s in their best interests. At school, at work, in our families, everywhere! The question for us today, is what opportunities do I have right now to serve someone else? May God open our eyes to see and ears to hear each opportunity we have to serve others, and may we faithfully obey him by putting others before ourselves.
FYI–My new book is now available for preorder. Click here to order Intentional Christian, available April 30, 2017.