Everything in our culture conditions us to think first of ourselves. We don’t think about other people naturally; it's something we have to learn to do.
“Look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own.” (Philippians 2:4 TEV)
There’s an old Chinese Proverb that says, “Seek to understand before seeking to be understood.” The Bible talks about this as well: “Look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own” (Philippians 2:4 TEV).
That is such a counter-culture verse. Everything in our culture conditions us to think first of ourselves. We don’t think about other people naturally. That’s something we have to learn to do. We naturally think about our needs, our desires, our goals, and our ambitions. As a result we have millions of people disconnected because they’re only thinking of themselves and not anyone else’s needs.
During about a two-hour period when I was recently watching TV, I saw three commercials with the same by-line: “You deserve it.” “Buy this shampoo! You deserve it.” “Buy this expensive car, because you deserve it!” We are taught that we are the supreme value in life.
Let me teach you two very basic truths about life. First, the world does not revolve around you. You’re very special in God’s eyes, and you were created for a purpose—but the world does not revolve around you. If you want to know how much you’d be missed, stick your hand in a bucket of water and pull it out, and see what kind of hole you leave. It fills back up pretty quick!
The second truth is this: God has promised that when you focus on meeting the needs of other people, he will meet your needs. Why? Because he wants you to learn to be unselfish. He wants you to learn to be loving and generous like him. Part of being considerate of other people’s needs is making allowances for their faults and not expecting them to be perfect (Colossians 3:13). You’re not perfect, so why should you demand it of anybody else?
Proverbs 17:9 says, “Love forgets mistakes” (TLB). When you are trying to make a connection with someone, you don’t have to be blind to that person’s faults. You just choose to overlook them. Great friends are good forgetters. They don’t rub it in; they rub it out! They are more concerned with the other person’s needs.
Talk It Over
- What are the distractions that keep you focused on yourself and not others?
- Why do you think God wants us to be more like him?
- What is the difference in overlooking someone’s faults and holding someone accountable?
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