Is this an impossible mission?
As I continue my study of Romans 12, I was not surprised to find one of the repeated themes of New Testament appearing: Believers are to put others above themselves. Paul made this point crystal clear in his letter to the Philippians.
Php 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
Php 2:4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Php 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
Php 2:6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
Php 2:7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
Php 2:8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Our example is Jesus.
But you knew that already. We all know that we are called to walk as Jesus walked (1 Jn 2:6). Every Christian is aware that we are to be on a mission to bless others–even if that requires personal sacrifice. In contrast to the expressed sentiments of Cain (Gen. 4:9), we are indeed our “brother’s keeper.” And we are to be forward in our efforts. Consider these words from Matthew Henry:
“Instead of contending for superiority, let us be forward to give to others the pre-eminence. This is explained [by Paul in Phil. 2:3] Let each esteem other better than themselves. And there is this good reason for it, because, if we know our own hearts, we know more evil by ourselves than we do by any one else in the world. We should be forward to take notice of the gifts, and graces, and performances of our brethren, and value them accordingly, be more forward to praise another, and more pleased to hear another praised, than ourselves” (quoted from eSword).
Did you notice Henry’s repeated use of the word forward? Think for a minute about what he is exhorting us to do. We should be forward–conscious in our efforts–to (1) give to others the pre-eminence, (2) take notice of the gifts, and graces, and performances of our brethren, and value them accordingly and (3) praise another (and more pleased to hear another praised than ourselves).
So–how forward are we being in our relationships with others?
Are we giving others pre-eminence? Are we making a conscious effort to put others needs above our own?
Are we taking notice of the good works done by others and praising God for them and thanking the individuals who “performed them”?
Are we praising others and desiring that others receive more commendation than ourselves?
My guess is that each of us can find areas just mentioned that require more forward action. If we honestly evaluated our relationships with others, we would find ways in which we can prove to be more of a blessing. The concept of giving preference to one another in love begins with an invisible mindset (a decision) and ends with a visible action (communication, deed). It’s a successful mission to bless, and it is not mission impossible! For God and with God, we can indeed go forward today!