Saturday, January 25, 2014

(40 Days of Focus) Day 21: "When It's OK to be First"

Read: "The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed" (Proverbs 11:25, NLT).

Think About It: I was young, full of energy and had a head covered with hair. Those were the days. Those were the days. A full time college student, driving school busses part-time, dating a full-time girlfriend, and serving as a full-time youth pastor on a part-time basis, with a no-time salary, I was doing a lot and learning even more in the process. One day in the spring I was in the office at the church and preparing to embark on my 45 minute drive back to school when the secretary, another volunteer, came into my office. “Run grab us some lunch. I just feel I need to do something for somebody today. I haven’t treated anybody in a while.” With a big smile and a great hunger for anything other than campus cuisine, I was on the mission. As I was “grabbing” lunch, something else grabbed my attention. She wasn’t focused on herself, hoping that someone buy her lunch, or just trying to get someone to go and pick it up. She believed God was directing her to bless someone else. I was the benefactor of her obedience. I was blessed. She was blessed. Many years later, her example remains an active influence in my life.

Going Deeper: Proverbs 11:25 is a verse that challenges and reminds you not to put yourself at the top of your own priority list. Live to be a blessing to others. The word refresh is a Hebrew word that means to “abundantly satisfy.” The Bible teaches that when you live your life to abundantly satisfy others, that’s when you will also find yourself satisfied. So much of your culture resounds with the loud, self-aggrandizing siren of “me first,” “why not me,” and “I’m going to get mine.” You are called to live by a different standard where “you” have actually been removed from your own focus. As you “love the Lord your God with all your heart,” and also “love your neighbor as you love yourself,” you will find yourself more encouraged, more refreshed, and more inspired to live the life God intended for you. As you focus on others, you will be freer to see that God really is focusing on you.

Next Step: Rather than becoming upset, disgruntled, or easily offended by what you’re not receiving from others, why you’re not invited to some gathering, receive many phone calls, or feel connected with those around you, choose to make the first move. Take a break from the internal focus and rotate your attention more on satisfying somebody else. Treat someone to lunch. “Randomly” call someone for no other reason than to say you were thinking about them. Send a note, an email, or a quick text just to bring a smile to their face. Refuse the temptation to “do something to get something.” It’s a trap. Don’t get sucked into it. Love God by loving people. By loving people, you are loving God.

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