Jesus first yourself last and others in between.

8 Things Jesus Tried to Teach His Disciples, Lesson Two: Serve. That was today’s sermon. Our pastor did a fine job dealing with ideas like finding joy in serving others…. reflecting God’s character by setting aside your own ‘rights’ to serve others…. the last shall be first and the first shall be last….. and of course my extra-favorite, the whole ‘it’s not about me’ thing. A quote from this morning: “We stop pursuing true greatness and we stop reflecting God’s glory when we refuse to ‘pick up the towel'”.

But honestly, I have questions.

I have often heard it said/preached that we are to always put the wants of others before our own wants. That we are to serve others, regardless of our own need. It’s sort of the ultimate in being a virtuous person. It could also be the shortcut to becoming the ultimate doormat…. the consistent martyr…. the identity-free co-dependent. And that doesn’t seem like a thing to be. So, conversely, I also find lots of talk about taking care of myself, ‘refueling’ and ‘refilling’. This can be wrapped in faith terms or not. So which is it, and do I have to choose? Am I to always to only serve others? What happens when I get those ’empty’ signs from within? Should the things I need always literally take a back seat? Should I build in time for the things that I think ‘refuel’ me, or should the consistent selflessness of serving be fulfilling in itself? What if I’m an introvert, and spending time around people eventually exhausts me? Does it ‘count’ for serving if I’m doing something that’s not with people?

OK, and here it is a bit more bluntly: Is complete denial of self (I must be denied everything I want) truly a Biblical teaching? And by questioning that, have I given in to the consumeristic culture?

Answers appreciated.

6 thoughts on “Jesus first yourself last and others in between.

  1. kenny gerb…. took me a minute to figure out who you are. :) Excellent answer, in that non-answer way. You’re right that it’s all about the journey… I find that I have to ask questions in order to get a clearer picture of the journey.

  2. Kim…can’t you just be happy with your typical midwestern christian lifestyle? No I love this question! I say first can never really know the answer but that our life here on earth the entire journey is the answer. We answer the question in bits and pieces. Sometimes it requires that we change a major portion of our lives such as submitting our hearts to God. Sometimes it requires fine tuning such as changing our perspective on a moral issue. But I think the reality is that we never “arrive” at the answer. How’s that for a non-answer?

  3. derek… I think you’re right. And I’m sorry I didn’t call you back the other day.

    matt… argh. the serving of the un-likeable people. Argh.

    amanda… thanks for your comment and email! Good insights. Stop by again!

  4. i just found this online today (and sent you an email, smiling at the fact that God has us on such a similar path)(it’s referring to marriage, but the concept applies to any area of a believer’s life):
    Our society seems to offer us only two options. Option one, assert yourself and demand your own way or, option two, become a door mat and let your spouse walk all over you. Jesus comes along and says, “Neither of those options is good. I have a more excellent way.” “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (V.5)

    When people read that they say, “See! Jesus had a martyr complex. Meekness is weakness and weakness means letting my spouse shove a crown of thorns on my head. There is no way that I will let that happen.” It’s not easy to understand the Biblical word meekness. But if you grasp the New Testament principle of meekness, you will hold great power with which you can bless your marriage relationship.

    When Jesus used the word meekness He was talking about a temper of spirit in which we accept God’s dealing with us as good. Because we accept it as good, we don’t resist nor dispute it. The common assumption is that when a person is meek, they are weak and cannot help themselves. Jesus was meek because he had the infinite resources of God at His command.
    hope that helps! keep seeking & share the answers you find! :o)


  5. I’ve actually thought a lot about that too. I don’t have any answers, but I feel like people often take advantage of “the good, nice guy” and just use that as an excuse to be irresponsible. And that drives the good, nice guy crazy.

  6. My first thought is that even Jesus took some time off in the Desert for a little ‘Refueling Time.’ Of course that’s when the whole Satan temptation thing happened so maybe that’s a bad example.

    Short answer…you can’t take care of other’s if you never take care of yourself but if you always take care of yourself there’s no time for others.

    I’m sure that helped.

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