March 23, 2004
Encouragement for Today
 
The First Will Be Last
Ginger Plowman, Speaker, Author, Assistant Director of Speaker Team 
 
Key Verse:
 
But many who are first will be last, and the last first.  (Mark 10:31, NIV)
 

Devotion:

 

It had been one of those days. It seemed that the errands would never end.  I had started at one end of town and was slowly working my way back home.  Tired from the long day of zipping from Wal-Mart to the grocery store to the bank to the post office, I had become frustrated with my travel companions.  My daughter, Alex (age 5), and her friend, Molly (age 4), were driving me batty with their endless arguments.  As we approached the car one last time, I prepared myself to handle the conflict that I had avoided each time the girls had entered the car - who got to climb in first

 

I opened the back door and, once again, the girls pushed their way past my legs to see who could be "the first one in."  But before I could offer my wise counsel for resolving the conflict once and for all, Alex spoke up, "Molly, this time I am going to be kind and generous."  I glanced down at her sincere little face and thought, Praise the Lord!  Maybe all those lectures about putting others first were finally beginning to sink in!  Thinking she was about to offer her friend the high honor of entering the car first, I waited patiently, anticipating the parental victory.  Then she continued, "This time I am going to get in first because I want to be kind."  Four-year-old Molly looked puzzled. With a scrunched up nose and raised upper lip she asked, "Huh?"  As Alex dove in ahead of Molly, she replied, "Molly, don't you know that the first will be last? And I don't want you to be last so I'm getting in first!" 

 

Alex may have had her theology down, but the motive of her heart was definitely questionable. 
 
Do you ever inch your way forward while pretending not to see a car trying to pull into traffic?  Do you ever stand in line at the grocery store with a full shopping cart and dismiss the thought of offering to let the lady behind you with only two items go first?  Putting others first is not something that comes naturally, but it is something that brings glory and honor to Christ. 
 
Paul encouraged, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4, NIV).  If Jesus, who is the King of Kings, took on the very nature of a servant and "made himself nothing," surely we can follow his example by demonstrating simple acts of "otherness."
 
The interesting thing is that when we put others above ourselves God confirms His pleasure by bringing a surge of joy to our hearts.  Let us warm the hearts of others, please the heart of God, and bask in the pleasure of putting others first.              
 

My prayer for today:
 
Dear Lord, we live in an "every man for himself" world.  But I know that putting others first pleases you.  Remind me today to stop and consider how I can serve and bless others by putting their needs above my own.  Let your love shine through me as I serve my family, my friends, and anyone that you place in my path. Amen.
  

Application steps:
 
Be on the lookout for ways to put your husband, your children, your friends, and even strangers, before yourself.  Let your goal be to demonstrate "otherness" on five separate occasions today.  On each occasion, offer a prayer of blessing on behalf of the other person.  Ponder the joy that fills your heart as you obey God in putting others first.
 

Reflection points:
 
Do I consider how I can help my husband each day or how he can help me?
 
When was the last time that I put aside my own desire so that someone else's could be fulfilled?
 
Do I take time from what I'm doing to stop and listen to my children when they are talking to me?   
 
Do I look for small ways to put others first or do I hurry through each day trying to accomplish my own agenda?
 

Power verses:
 
Philippians 2:3, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (NIV)
 
Galatians 5:13, You, my brothers [and sisters], were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. (NIV)
 
James 4:6, God apposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (NIV)
 
Philippians 2:5-7, Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (NIV)
 

Additional resources:
 
Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/radical.html
 
Ultimate Makeover by Sharon Jaynes
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/makeover.html
 
Living Life on Purpose by Lysa TerKeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/livinglife.html