I woke up the other morning and asked God to help me realize I’m not the only person in the Universe. That’s how I live most days. What am I going to wear today? What am I going to eat? Where I going and what am I going to do today? I focus so intently on my needs and desires that everyone else in the world gradually disappears.
God took my prayer seriously that day. I drove to the only place in town that gives free air for tires and an older gentleman was ahead of me putting air in his tires. I panicked when I saw how slow he was at the job. Doesn’t he know I’m in a hurry and how valuable my time is? How inconsiderate he was to arrive 5 minutes before I did at the air pump!
God reminded me of my earlier prayer request. I realized this man was also part of the universe. I was not alone. God prompted me to pray for the man while waiting for him to fill up his tires (all four of course). I asked God to bless this older gentleman, give him health, and improve his golf swing. I don’t know, he looked like a golfer to me.
While this was happening I looked over and saw a wealthy businessman I know pumping gas in his brand new BMW. Without warning I could feel envy starting to rise up within me. I now had two people in my universe. God prompted me to pray for the businessman as well. As I prayed for him envy melted away. I recalled that this man consistently gives a tremendous amount of money to his church and many other charities. He also employs quite a few people and pays them well. He has restored dilapidated buildings in his home town and boosted the local economy. Most importantly He is a genuine man of God and his wife is a godly woman. He has a wonderful family who love and serve the Lord. The more I prayed for him the more I appreciated his integrity and all he has done for the kingdom of God.
Our culture strongly promotes achieving our dreams. Motivational books and speakers tell us that it doesn’t matter what your dream is, just go after it and never stop. This message has become popular in our church’s pulpits as well. Is our dream for the benefit of others or just for selfish desires? Are other people included in our dreams only as stepping stones to achieving our goals? What if our dreams don’t align with God’s dream? I’m concerned about our young people constantly being bombarded with the “Go after your dreams” pep talks. I think it’s better to tell them to find out what God is doing on the earth and go after that. Make His dream your dream.
What ever happened to sermons and exhortations to “Die to self” and to lay down our lives for one another? (see Jn. 15:13 and 1 Jn. 3:16). Our culture’s version of Christianity has become so individualized, all we care about is God’s blessings to us personally. Philippians 2:3-5 NLT says, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
Brian Hathaway has estimated that 44% of the letters of the New Testament are about how we should get along with one another. The Greek word for “one another” is “allelon.” It occurs 59 times in the New Testament as specific command to love, serve, forgive, encourage, comfort, and honor one another.
I love the story about General William Booth which occurred near the end of his life in 1910. Due to poor health and failing eyesight he would be unable to attend the annual convention of The Salvation Army. It was suggested to him to send a telegram to encourage all his faithful solders; which he happily agreed to do. Not wanting to waste the ministry’s money on a lengthy telegram, Booth decided to send a one word message. After announcing General Booth could not attend the convention, the disappointed attendees perked up upon hearing that he sent a special telegram to them. With great anticipation the crowd listened as the moderator read the telegram to them. It was simply the word “Others.” Signed, General Booth.