Summary: This is the time when we sing Joy to the world and be happy about it. But is there something more we are expected to do? Before the Christmas Spirit wears off and before New Year resolutions are made, let us commit to Put others First
Putting Others First
This morning, permit me to ask you to do an exercise. Please do pardon me if you feel uncomfortable doing this exercise. We have distributed a piece of paper and pens to all of you. I would like you to think for a moment and write down all the things you did during the Christmas Season this year. It might be baking a cake, it might be buying cloths, it might be decorating the church, or home or whatever. Think and write down please.
If you have finished writing it down, go through the list and put a tick mark on the items that were done for others. If you baked the cake for the family, it counts. If you bought cloths for your wife it doesn’t count (I am kidding, it does) . Now, look through the ticked items and identify what you did for your immediate family, immediate relatives, and put another tick mark against the items you did for people outside your family circle. Now sit back and reflect on the items that have the double tick marks.
The Christmas celebrations are over and we are waiting for the New Year celebrations now. The secular world has increasingly started calling this the “Holiday Season”. On this intervening Sunday between Christmas and the New year, the Lord has placed on my heart to examine some of Jesus’s teachings and how it is meant to make a difference in the way we deal with others.
But before we go there, let us understand why we need to look at this topic during this season of all. After all, this is a season of Joy, and we would just be celebrating, isn’t it? Why not focus on the promises of God? Why not focus on the Joy that this season brings to all the world? Why not sing the Carol Joy to the World” and be happy about it? Let me tell you, JOY is the exact reason why I am speaking on this topic today. The best expansion of JOY that I have heard is this. Jesus First, Others Next , You last. JOY. So, during this season, I believe that, for us to be really joyful, we need to go with this understanding of JOY. Jesus First, Others Next and You last.
Let us look at Jesus First concept of JOY. Pastor has been speaking about it for some time now. For us Christians, there is no denying the fact that the reason for the Season is Jesus Christ, and it is His birth we are celebrating. We celebrate Christmas because we believe in the Scripture, we believe in the virgin birth and we believe in the man Jesus Christ, who walked the earth among us for 33 years. We believe in the cross where He was crucified for our sins, we believe in the resurrection and we believe in His second coming. There is no doubt that we are here, because we put Jesus First. If there is anyone who has not yet put their faith in Jesus completely yet, this is the right Season for us to do that.
Let us turn to the second and third aspects of JOY. Others first, You last.
All of you know that I teach Servant Leadership in corporates, outside the Churches and Christian Organisations. That is my passion, that is my mission and that is my livelihood. So, when people ask me to define a Servant Leader, I give them this definition. “A Servant Leader is someone who invests in the life of another person to the extent that the other person becomes better, bigger, wiser, richer, healthier, happier wealthier, more famous than themselves.” All participants in my workshops are impressed by this definition of Servant Leadership, but soon the “Practical aspects” of this definition starts raising its head. Does it mean that I will need to promote my direct report to be my manager? Does it mean that I give an increment to my team member that his/her salary becomes double that of mine? Practical questions. So for the corporate crowd, I do have a practical definition, and I do provide a practical definition, so that they don’t get put off by the ideal definition of Servant Leadership that I had articulated above.
I want to ask you this morning. How about us, who believe in Jesus Christ? How about us who are faithful Christians, and church goers? Do we need a practical definition too? Do we also think that the definition that I gave is too ideal to practice? As Christians, are we really required to Put Others First?
Let us turn to the Bible for some answers this morning. Philippians 2:3-4 (NKJV) tells us 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. The message is clear. We should not be selfish, and need to look at the intertest of others. It might sound rather rhetorical to speak on this topic, but think again? Do we always have the interest of others in our mind when we pray, when we testify, when we do things, when we give? Go back to the list that we prepared in the beginning of the sermon and look at it again. Are we there yet? My objective is not make us feel guilty or uncomfortable but to learn from this season about what Jesus asked us to do. Let us go back two verses from Philippians 2:3-4 and go to first two verses. Philippians 2:1-2 (NKJV) 1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Before Paul asks us to put others first in verse 3, he starts by asking us to examine ourselves. He says, if we have any consolation in Christ, if we have any comfort in live, if we have any fellowship with the Holy spirit. We keep saying Christ is the reason for the season isn’t it? We keep asserting that love is the message of Christmas, and sitting on this side of the cross we do want the fellowship of the Holy Spirit isn’t it? Paul says, if we have any of that, we need to show love like Jesus did. We need to show love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.