Esteem Others More Highly

Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. ~Hebrews 13:3

All too often in modern western culture we find ourselves concerned more about our own standard of living than we do about those that are struggling simply to survive. We are so far removed from the brutality, persecution, and extreme poverty of the world that it does not even occur to us that, as we worry about which $30,000 car best suits our individuality, our brothers and sisters around the world are being imprisoned and tortured. While we tuck our own children into bed, tens of thousands of children around the world are being sold into slavery.

While it is easy to fall into this blindness when we are blessed to live in a relatively peaceful and abundant society, scripture paints a different picture of how we are to live within this fallen world. Paul tells us that in humility we are to esteem others as more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3) and James tells us that religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27). John tells us that, in love, we ought to lay down our lives for one another (1 John 3:16) and Jesus commands us to love one another even as He has loved us (John 15:12).

Take a moment to examine the abundance that surrounds you and ask God to open your heart and your mind to His instruction. Our world tells us to grab as much for ourselves as we can, but God tells us to lay up our treasure in heaven (Matthew6:20). The world tells us to take care of ourselves first and ensure that we have enough put away for our future needs but Jesus commands us to not even worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34). We seek out nice clothing and fine food, but God tells us not to worry whether we have any clothing or food but to seek first His righteousness and the rest will be added (Matthew 6:31-33).

The quest for His righteousness usually comes in steps as we endeavor to journey ever closer to God. Look around you and determine what small step you can make today to place the needs of another before your own. Do you need to take your family out to that nice dinner or might that money be better spent feeding a family that is struggling to eat at all? Is it possible that the time you spend watching the latest reality T.V. show might be better used to love and comfort a widow who has no one left in her life? What is it that God has placed on your heart to sacrifice for someone who needs it?

Once you take that first step, ask God where in your life you can take another step, and then another, and then another. Do not stop seeking God's will for you and never stop running the race that He sets before you.

Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:1-2

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