Tuesday, August 09, 2005

"Me First!" - The Biblical Way

(These thoughts just came to me last night, and I felt I should share them. Please understand that I am speaking to myself as much, if not more than to you. :-)

I know, most of you are probably saying right now, "There is never a time when we should put ourselves ahead of others! Doesn't the Bible say over and over to think of others first, put their interests ahead of ours, and seek to edify them?" But I would like to submit to you a time when it is not only right, but Biblical to put yourself first.

The world has so many ways of saying it – Self Esteem, Look out for Number 1, Defend your "rights". All of these sayings have a "Me First" attitude or underlying principle. People want to be first in everything, wealth, sports, fame, possessions; and yet they put everyone else ahead of them in the one thing that Jesus commanded us to be "self-seeking" about. What is that one thing? You will find it in Matthew 7: 1-6. Jesus begins by telling us to "Judge not.." This means any act of fault-finding, criticism, or condemning another person. He goes on to explain that we will be judged ourselves, with the same kind of judgement that we use on others. Then, in verse five, Jesus exclaims "Hypocrite! FIRST remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (emphasis mine) So what are we to put ourselves first in? Fault-finding! Jesus warns us against criticizing minor faults in others, when we have not searched our own hearts first and removed the grievous sins there.

The only time when we should put ourselves first is when we seek to apply a principle or lesson to others, or simply go fault-finding. Sadly, this seems to be a favorite pastime for many, and I am ashamed to admit that I have indulged in it too often myself. This is where the "Me First" principle comes in. If you think you see where a fault is, or a rebuke is needed in someone else, before you start correcting, FIRST check out your own heart, and HONESTLY seek places where YOU need to repent. Search your heart and pray that God will reveal your own faults, repent and turn from them with His help, and THEN you may be allowed to give a gentle, humble rebuke or reminder to another. First clean up your own act, and then maybe the little fault you saw in the other person won't seem as bad. At least you won't be a hypocrite by having the same sin that you correct others in, appear in your life. Sacrifice your pride, Confess your own sins, and then your rebuke, if needed, will be more readily received. If you see other's faults so much more easily than your own, just think what they must see in you! There are no good mirrors in the earthly realm of self-examination. If we just compare ourselves with others, we will usually come out looking pretty good. The only TRUTHFUL mirror is the Word of God. It all comes back to what standard we live by. Look in the Mirror of God's Word, at yourself, NOT others, and you will see how "dirty" you really are. Ask God to change your heart FIRST, and then He may be able to use you to help change the WORLD!

~Charity Joy

My Dad found this little poem from an old church bulletin that seemed to go with my article. Here it is for your perusal...

I dreamt death came the other night, and Heaven's gate swung wide.
An angel with a halo bright, ushered me inside.
And there to my astonishment stood folks I'd judged and labeled,
As quite unfit, of little worth, and spiritually disabled.
Indignant words rose to my lips, but never were set free;
For every face showed stunned surprise - not one expected ME!