Talk about a time when you accomplished something that you wanted everyone to know about. Who did you tell? Then talk about a time when you put others before yourself. How did that feel?
My Story and the Bible Story
I loved school. When I was a kid, I loved everything about school. And I loved good grades. I wanted to be the best. But here’s the thing: there was always someone better than me. No matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, there was always that one person who was smarter. There were a few times when I came in first for something, but there was usually someone else who was smarter, who did better than I did. I did really well, but I was never first. Looking back on it, I think there was a reason that I was never first (aside from the obvious one that that person was smarter than me). I think God knew that being first would go to my head. I think being first would have made me always try to put myself ahead of everyone else in my quest to stay #1. And that’s not how God wants us to live. In a way, I think it was better than I wasn’t usually #1, because then I learned how important it is to respect others and to see that we are all equal. None of us is better than anyone else, because we are all created by God. If Jesus, God’s own Son and the only perfect human who ever lived, didn’t act like he was better than everyone else, then how can we?
Read Philippians 2:1-13. From The Message: If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father. What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.
“Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” It’s easy to get caught up in being the best. It’s easy to think about what we want. It’s easy to only think about ourselves. But, there are times when everyone needs help. Maybe there’s someone at school who nobody talks to and you’re afraid that you won’t be popular or people will make fun of you if you talk to him or her. Or maybe there’s a toy that you’ve been saving up for and you have enough money, but your friend’s family doesn’t have enough money for food. In order to be a Christian, in order to become more like Christ (which is our goal as Christians), we have to think about others and what they need. Jesus thought about us. Think about it: Jesus was living with God in heaven. And yet, he came to earth in human form. He had to deal with cuts and scrapes and hurts just like we do. But he loved us enough that he did what was best for us, giving up what he had in heaven and coming to earth to die for us. Jesus put us ahead of what he wanted and did what was best for us. And he calls us to do the same. So when someone needs help, try to help them, even if that means you don’t get that new toy right away or people don’t understand why you’re being nice to someone that nobody else talks to. Think about what Jesus did for us and help others. When you do that, you’ll be doing what Christ did and you’ll be following what God wants us to do. You may not get to be #1, but you’ll make the Creator of the Universe happy. And that’s a lot better than any gold medal!
Discussion and Action
• Ask your children if there are people they know who need help. If so, brainstorm ways that you as a family can help them.
• Talk about concrete ways to put others first (letting your sister use the bathroom to get ready before you, helping your mom set the table instead of playing video games before dinner, letting someone else have the last cookie, etc.).
• Find different organizations that help others and as a family talk about which one you’d like to help. Find ways to volunteer as a family to help others.
Ask God for help in putting others first. Thank God that Jesus was willing to do what was best for us so that we could always be with God.
Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.