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I Should Be Second - Girlfriends in God - July 8, 2014

July 8, 2014
I Should Be Second
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves(Romans 12:10).

Friend to Friend

I do not like serving difficult people. You know – the ones who rub you the wrong way. I call them sandpaper people. In fact, the sandpaper people in my life should serve me in order to make up for all of the grief they have caused. Right? Unfortunately, that is the way the world operates – not God. Our Father sees these abrasive people through eyes of unconditional love. He looks past their faults and sees their need.

Sandpaper people are hard to serve and hard to help because they rarely think of themselves as someone in need. The needs of others are not high on their priority list, but power and control are. To manipulate is to succeed. Sandpaper people honestly believe that the world does or should revolve around them. It doesn’t seem to matter if the audience is applauding or jeering. Either way, they win.  

When we dare to serve a sandpaper person, it rocks their world. They are accustomed to scratching and clawing their way to a false and shallow acceptance, and find it almost impossible to believe that anyone would ever be willing to serve them in any way. That kind of chosen love is foreign to them, but it certainly grabs their attention. When we choose to serve and love sandpaper people, we will begin to see them in a different way.

The apostle Paul says we should be devoted to one another and honor others above our selves. That is hard to do – especially when dealing with difficult people. “Devotion” indicates commitment and duty, and carries the idea of a constant faithfulness that deliberately chooses repeatedly to serve. To “honor” someone means to “prefer” or regard others as more important than our selves. Most sandpaper people are used to people preferring that they disappear, but when we learn to look past the irritating antics of sandpaper people and simply love them as they are, we are following the example of Christ.

Philippians 2:1-5 “Are your hearts tender and sympathetic? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose. Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too and what they are doing. Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had.”

I believe the greatest hindrance to serving others is pride. Corrie Ten Boom, a dynamic Christian and survivor of German prison camps, loved to tell the story about a proud woodpecker who was tapping away at a dead tree when the sky unexpectedly turned black, and the thunder began to roll. Undaunted, he went right on working. Suddenly a bolt of lightning struck the old tree, splintering it into hundreds of pieces. Startled but unhurt, the haughty bird flew off, screeching to his feathered friends, "Hey, everyone, look what I did! Look what I did!"

That old woodpecker reminds me of people who think more highly of themselves than they should. Usually they are so busy bragging about their achievements that they fail to recognize God as the source of their abilities. They are suffering from spiritual delusions of grandeur, and I am often right there with them.

I Peter 5:6 “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you.”

Without the Lord, no one amounts to anything, and in our own strength, we cannot please Him. But when we choose to humble ourselves before God, He is pleased and will honor us. We are never more like our Father than when we lay aside our pride to love sandpaper people by serving them.

Let’s Pray

Father, when I let pride take up residence in my heart, I can be so blind to the needs of others, especially those who are more difficult to love. I am so thankful that You did not feel that way toward me, one of the most difficult people of all to love. I praise You for the grace and love You have given me. Help me to be an instrument of that love and grace in the lives of those around me.

In Jesus’ name,


Now It’s Your Turn

Take a few minutes to think about the people in your life – family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc.

List two people who are easy to love and serve.
Name one way you can serve these people in the name of Jesus.
Determine how and when you can serve them. Be specific.

List two people who are difficult to love and serve.
Name one way you can serve these people in the name of Jesus.
Determine how and when you can serve them. Be specific.

Compare the two experiences.
Which experience taught you the most valuable lesson?
Which one forced you to rely upon God’s power the most?
What one truth did you gain through these two experiences?

More from the Girlfriends

If I am not careful, I automatically gravitate to those who are easy to love and easy to serve. I have to remind myself that Jesus Christ came for broken people like me. I am not always easy to love and am prone to reject service because “I can do it myself.” Sound familiar? Today, choose to love and serve those difficult people in your path. When someone loves and wants to serve you, accept that love and service in Jesus’ name, as a gift from God’s hand. I would love to hear what God teaches you through this devotion. Connect with me on Facebook or through email to share your story.

NEW from Mary! An E-Bible Study that will change your life. The Power of Forgiveness is a five-week Bible Study that will help you choose to forgive when you really don’t want to and show you how to let go of the hurt in your life.

Join women across the world in Mary’s weekly online Bible Study, A Glimpse of Heaven beginning August 11. Enroll now and receive all 2014 lessons.

Need help dealing with the difficult people in your life? Mary’s book, Sandpaper People, offers practical and powerful Biblical steps you can take to effectively deal with those people who rub you the wrong way. (Also available in CD and MP3)

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