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Playing Second Fiddle
by Stephen Sanders
“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.” (Rom. 12:9-10, MSG)
Shortly after I decided that I wanted to write a blog post on this passage of scripture, a funny thing happened. For the second time this week, I received a work email from one of my fellow employees titled, “free Hanover Tomatoes in the break room!”
Now, as a lover of all types of tomatoes, especially those of the Hanover variety, I got this email and quickly rushed down the steps to the break room where I found a couple more of my work mates. With a speedy “hey guys,” I made a beeline for the table where people place all the free stuff.
As I opened the bag and reached inside, I discovered that there was just one delicious Hanover tomato left. I reluctantly picked it up and turned to toss the bag in the trash when one of my colleagues exclaimed, “Aww man! The last tomato?!?!”
“Here you go, man.” I said. After all, I still had a delicious Hanover tomato in the fridge from earlier that week.
He said, “No. I can’t. It’s fine, man.”
“No really,” I said emphatically, “please take it.”
“OK. If you say so,” he said. As I walked towards the door to head back upstairs, he said, “Wait. Here you go, man. It has a couple holes in it anyway.”
“Are you sure?” I replied as I reached out for the delicious Hanover tomato. “I’m positive”, he said, “I mean, you may want to slice it up or put it on a sandwich or something like that.”
“You guys are embarrassing me”, said my other work mate jokingly.
When we “play second fiddle”, or as the ESV says, “outdo one another in showing honor”, the world around us takes notice. It’s the defining mark of a Christian and ultimately what causes us to shine. Sure it might make things a little awkward or uncomfortable for everyone involved, but what’s so wrong with that? I mean, isn’t that kind of the point?
Just think about it; the Bible tells us emphatically that our walk with Jesus is one where we empty ourselves and then fill ourselves back up with Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul was always talking about how it was no longer he who lived but Christ and that he actually died daily to be a follower of Jesus. Even Jesus Himself states that His followers are those who deny themselves and even lose themselves for His sake.
Denying your wants is not an easy thing. It may, in fact, cause you a lot of stress. After all, what happens if you give and give until you have nothing left?
In Matthew 6:25-34 (MSG), Jesus provides a remedy to our anxiety on this matter:
“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.
Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion – do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers – most of which are never even seen – don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works.
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Intersecting Faith & Life: Surrendering to Jesus is the only way to supplement all of the discomfort we experience when we go without so someone else can receive. Be on the lookout for opportunities to display sacrificial love today while relying on Him for comfort.