And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Romans 15:4-5 NLT
In reading the Apostle Paul’s writings, He always stresses our responsibility to look out for others first. Why the importance of placing the needs of someone else over ourselves? Because we are the selfless servants [disciples] of Jesus Christ. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 28:20. Jesus is our role model. Yet, many Christians–Christ-like fail to obey Jesus’ command to put others first.
“What about me?” is usually the question that overpowers our thoughts. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33. When serving God, we have everything we need to live contented, unselfish, and purpose-driven lives. Read Matthew 6:25-34 for reassurance.
Helping others allows our hearts to have an overflow of love and demonstrates our willingness to trust and obey God. From that love, God can mold our characters. We focus on the apparent sins in our lives but rarely reflect on our misaligned character traits. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
It is our characters that present the most significant challenge. We cannot self-evaluate our own faults. From our perspective, we always look good. The Holy Spirit enables us to achieve the requirements of daily spiritual growth–Sanctification is an ongoing and life-long journey. We do not have to understand how the Holy Spirit works. Our responsibility is to pray daily to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Without the help of the third person of the Trinity, change is impossible. We were born with the sinful mindset of “always looking out for number one.”
The scriptures reveal that Jesus’ disciples were people just like you and I, they possessed intrinsic selfishness. And they fed their selfish spirit by always striving to be greater than each other. Sadly, there was so much internal conflict that it impacted their faith and the ability to perform miracles. Although Jesus usually pointed out their sinful traits through parables, we find scriptures that indicate Jesus’ open rebuke and correction of their behaviors. Even Jesus had to set the boundaries of “enough is enough.”
The battle with self is one that never ends. Feeding the five thousand would never have happened if it were up to His disciples. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Matthew 14:15
Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Matthew 14:16. Their response of “And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” Matthew 14:17 indicates the spiritual deficit of no faith. Twelve men could perform the same miracle as Jesus, yet, they could do nothing because of their desire to be the greatest among them.
We do not have to repeat the mistakes of Jesus’ twelve. Praying daily and submitting our will to God allows us to live righteously through faith, trust, and obedience.
What does God require of us? He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you? But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
Helping others [not limited to financial assistance] require the love of God along with humility and total obedience. Believers who have compassion and the desire to encourage others are at the lowest level when discouragement and depression are at their highest levels among our brothers and sisters.
Jesus declared, “ ’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’…Matthew 22:37-39
Putting the needs of others first, we reap abundant rewards. Our stony heart is chipped away, revealing tenderness and compassion. Our relationship with Jesus Christ reaches a higher level of growth as the roots of discipleship reach deeper into the soil of righteousness by faith.
We will receive immortality when Jesus comes again. Even so, throughout the Bible, love prevails. It is our character that must be changed before Jesus coming again. Many do not believe in this concept that we have to put forth the human effort to get rid of sinful traits. Revelation 22:11 confirms that when Jesus comes again, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” The day that Jesus appears is the day no further change will occur in our characters.
No worries. God is aware that we need His help to change. Divine Intervention: “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; Philippians 1:6
Obedience to God is a fruit that grows from a heart filled with love and dedication to please God. Our reward is eternal life in a perfect world. Love God, Love Others, and Love Yourself.
Prayer: God, we ask you create in us a clean heart and give us the desire to fulfill our role as disciples. Please remove the selfishness from our hearts that we may live a purpose-driven life. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry
He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. Revelation 21:7