A couple weeks ago, my mom read to us a true story of a pilot whose plane crashed. He had opportunity to escape to safety, but instead he chose to remain in the plane, doing what he could to keep it from crashing into a town. Having followed the principle of “I’m Third” for his entire life, he now followed it to death. The plane crashed, but missed the town. The pilot had sacrificed his life for theirs.
You know, at the end of the day, I often look back and think, “I did a pretty good job today.” I didn’t lose my temper. I read my Bible. There isn’t anything too grievous on my record.
But hearing that story – those words, “I’m Third” – caused me to look at myself a little more critically. How many times has my mom asked us to do something, and I think, “I worked all day. Someone else can do it.”
That isn’t putting myself third at all! That’s putting myself first!
I’m reminded of something else I read a few weeks ago. O. S. Hawkins, in “The Joshua Code,” pointed out the following:
Until now, on the very eve of the crucifixion, the best we could do was to live on the level of the old commandment. This old commandment is found in Leviticus 19:18 and referenced in the Great Commandment. That is, we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This self-love is a love with limits. It is often conditional on such matters as time or conduct, situations or social standing. It can lend itself to selfishness because it speaks of a self-love. It can also be changeable and fickle.
But real love is expressed by a new rule . . . In essence, Jesus said, “For over three decades now I have shown you real love. I am about to leave you, so before I go, a new commandment I am giving you. No longer are you to love one another as you love yourself, but ‘as I have loved you.’
In the Old Testament, everything was about equality and fairness. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” I can be a lot like that, too. “Three cookies for everyone.”
But in the New Testament, equality finds its higher calling: love like Christ.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).
Notice it doesn’t say you have to give up your own interests entirely. It just says to put others’ interests before your own
And honestly, I think if everyone lived that way, things on earth would actually be a bit more fair.
“See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all” (1 Thess. 5:15).
Let us live so that this verse can be quoted of us: “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” (2 Thess. 1:3).