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As an easygoing person, I generally don’t find it difficult to put others first. AKA –I defer to others as long as people are talking about things that I’m easygoing about, like where to eat out or what movie to watch.
Whether or not you are easygoing, you probably know where I’m coming from.
It’s usually easy to give the people you love (or even strangers) a place of priority. Holding the door for someone isn’t hard, and it’s kind. Buying a gift for your friend or making lunch for your spouse? Easy and enjoyable.
Thinking of others, caring for others, loving people…that comes naturally for many of us.
Except for when there is a personal price to be paid for that love.
What happens when putting others first requires that you put yourself last?
We often respond by:
- Growing impatient
- Justifying our needs to ourselves
- Diminishing the needs of others
- Feeling used
Looking for an example?
The other night my neck ached. I got up to bed and mentioned it. My husband offered to go get me ice. Very kind of him –except that I was ready for bed and he didn’t go for the ice immediately. He had his tablet open and sat just feet from my aching neck playing on that tablet.
I knew he had a busy week, that he had to be up early, and that he hadn’t had time to relax. So I held by breath (and my tongue!) But just a couple of minutes in, I was feeling pretty impatient. Then, I noticed how badly my neck really hurt. And I thought about how badly I needed that ice. My thoughts quickly flowed from my needs to his…is a tablet that important??
The next thing to come to mind: I never make him wait when he is in pain and I’ve offered to help. He’s been taking advantage of my quick willingness to care for him!
Was that really the case? Nope.
5 minutes had passed. I survived just fine. He got me the ice when he finished with his tablet (not playing a game after all…filling out important papers…oops…). And it’s not like he demands that I drop everything when his neck is sore.
It’s the flesh that speaks those lies.
In Scripture, we read that love “is not self-seeking” (1 Corinthians 13:5.) More than simple eager to give and be kind, greater than the urge to a priority on others, love actually sets aside the self.
Serving others has nothing to do with convenience. Truly loving as Christ did means not counting the cost –He grave freely, after all, though the price was steep.
Having to be patient, change my plans, or live without ice for a neck ache for oh, 5, more minutes? Hardly a steep price, even when it feels like it!
In what ways do you hate to put others first? If you love to serve your spouse, is there a point at which you (selfishly) say enough is enough?