"Always give the other person the bigger slice."
"The bigger person will sit in the back seat."
"Take your turn, don't push others aside."
All these instructions were to keep the peace between us, but they also taught us to consider others' feelings and needs ahead of our own.
You know what? When I started sitting in the back seat, I grew to appreciate it. I had more space, and Mom didn't ask me to look for the road signs. It became my little haven. And, when I let my sister go first, I saw the outcome. Maybe I didn't want to jump out of the barn loft once I saw how she landed! And, I learned that parents reward good behavior.
Anyway, I hope, young parent, that you are teaching similar things to your children. To be sure, society is not. When you read the slogans, the idea of grabbing all you can, not letting anyone hold you back, and loving yourself first drive home a different message.
As I thought more about this, the teaching of James surfaced. You know the passage? A person looks into the glass and sees himself, then heads out, forgetting what he looks like. Well, I thought, sometimes folks get so enamored by the image in the mirror that they forget to look at anything else. They are so self-focused, so in love with themselves, they do not see or consider others. (James 1:22-24)
This is the idea behind the warning, "Perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves" in 2 Timothy 3:1,2. And what comes from this self-caressing attitude? Covetousness, boasting, pride, disobedience, ingratitude, unholiness, sexual perversion, lying, violence, and hate, just to name a few of the things listed in 2 Timothy 3.
So, what are we to do? Well, we could stop looking so long into the mirror. Put our self-image down, and change our view. When Jesus noticed this same attitude in the disciples, he told them to lift up their eyes and look on the fields - the needy souls coming toward them. Instead of focusing on your needs, look for, and do a good deed for someone else. You'll be much happier. Such actions create a stronger society and serve our Saviour's example.
John wrote, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30) He's saying, "Let Jesus have first place." That is the greatest commandment--to love God first. The second great commandment is to love others as we love ourselves, and the Golden Rule instructs us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. That is the message of Christ, a message to those in love with themselves, "Love others first." God knows we love ourselves, but he wants to see us loving others in the same way he loves them.
The epistle of Philippians puts it this way, "In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." Such is the mind of Christ. Is it ours?
If we continue striving to get the biggest piece of pie, sit in the front seat, or trample over others to get what we want, we are not exhibiting Christ. We are vying for ourselves. Saints who stare at the mirror fail to see the peril of the lost, the need of others, and the eyes of the Saviour. We are to be reflecting Christ. To do that, we must put down the mirror of self-love.
I challenge you to examine your motives, beliefs, and actions. Are you in love with yourself? Are you too proud, stubborn, or grasping to yield to others? Who do you think about first? Who gets the biggest piece of pie?