What do you mean by “Living for Others?”
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
I was not raised in a Christian home. There were Christians in my family tree, but not many. My family was very dysfunctional and dominated by alcohol, anger, and chaos. It was a ‘Darwinian” atmosphere, meaning the survival of the fittest. Emotionally, you were on your own. The bills were paid, and we coexisted under one roof. Family life was not as terrible as one could imagine, but it was not an Ozzie and Harriette existence.
I was concentrated on me. Once I was able to move about, I moved about quite a bit. It would be nothing for me to be found several miles from home, playing with some friends from school. I would ride my bike to see them, and ride back home after dark, crossing a busy highway. I must have been ten years old. I knew how to look out for myself, I thought.
I grew up to be a selfish young man and had not concept about “living for others.” None. There was really no sense of family unity and my friendships were tenuous and shallow. I lied, stole, cheated, and lived as I wanted to live. I was a wild child product of the 60s culture.
Christ called my name after I graduated from High School. I was attending college and a fellow named Dave Sevier handed me a tract, told me about Christ and I was interested, but not converted. I began to looking for answers. I bought a Bible and began to read. Eventually, I came to Christ at His beaconing. Truly broken over my sin, I repented and believed.
Contrary to what I hear so often, I did not have a life-changing moment. No lights came and no band was playing. My mother had come to Christ a few years back, as did my sister. I attribute my coming to Christ a great deal to the fact that momma prayed and Christ answered her prayers.
So, at the age of nineteen, I was born again. Life did change dramatically. I could not explain the details back then, but now I understand I had been given a new heart and a new life. My desires changed internally. I was still a selfish, ignorant young man, though. Changed, but still clinging to what I knew. I had a hard time learning what it meant to ‘consider others better than myself,’ or to ‘look out for the interest of others.’ I still had the knack for putting myself first, God was a close second, and others were last.
I read that we were to carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you would fulfill the law of Christ (Gal.6:2). But I had difficulty understanding this. The idea of being a slave was repugnant to me. I was my own man. But there was a twinge of conscience that I had never felt before. This was something I needed to learn.
Paul says in his letter to the Romans, “Honor one another above yourselves. We who are strong should bear with the failings of the weak and not be please ourselves. Please your neighbor and build him up for his own good.”
The more I read, the more I was I was not falling within these guidelines. My mind was molded in a different way. I had followed a different path for years. I had cut my hair, began to attempt to dress better, cleaned up my language and stopped quite a bit of my sinful ways. I was progressing in Christ. My love for Him was genuine, but I was so ignorant of the ways of God.
How do I learn to love others as Christ loves me?
One thing that troubled me was a constant awareness that I was being judged by my performance. The people in the church my age kept me at arms length. I did not fit in. My reputation was known and my clinging sins were obvious. I smoked constantly. So, to avoid judgement, I did what I could to hide this. But this sense of judgement rode with me every day. Toda