Best of Daily Reflections: From Selfishness to Service
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
During my childhood, Burger King told me, “Have it your way.” The catchy jingle meant that you could order your hamburgers according to your personal preferences. At the time, it was amazing that a fast food chain was willing to be so sensitive to the interests of the customers. I was used to choosing from the set options on the menu until Burger King said, “Your wish is my command.” Now all the fast food places do it.
It is nice to have restaurants cater to my wishes, and consumer-sensitive customer service can be quite virtuous and good for business. But society can tempt us to apply this message too broadly. Our individual needs are not the greatest value of all. Ever since the fall, it has been easy for humans to pursue life construed as one great selfishness project. If we make our needs and wants the most important things of all, we will be less sensitive or even blind to the needs of others. Service would be among our lowest priorities.
Paul encourages the Galatians (and us) to be a community sensitive to those who stumble into sin (v.1-2) and to look for opportunities to serve others—whether they are Christians or not. We can only recognize and attend to the needs of others if we look beyond our own desires. Our community must be characterized by compassion and commitment to the flourishing of our neighbors. The world around us is not used to people who seek to serve others, especially when those “others” are outside their circle. This is the great opportunity of practical witness through service to our neighbors.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What are some ways our culture tells us that our own personal desires are the most important thing in the world? How much have you been influenced by this “normal” way of life in our culture? What is the greatest challenge for you in the area of service? How can you encourage fellow Christians toward the goal of serving others inside and outside the church?
PRAYER: Lord, you are the greatest model of generosity. In your grace and mercy, you have given us what we do not deserve, yet we often find ourselves tempted to pursue only our personal needs. By your word and through the Spirit’s power, teach us to be generous. We ask you to raise our heads and direct our gaze beyond ourselves so that we may be more aware of the needs around us and the opportunity to serve. Help us to reach out to our fellow human beings, including those who are outside of the church. May we bring you glory by our love for our neighbors. Lead us, we pray in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: Dr. Vincent Bacote has been on the faculty at Wheaton College since 2000 where he is currently Associate Director of Theology and Director of Center for Applied Christian Ethics. His work on Abraham Kuyper, race, ethics, and other topics has appeared in publications such as Commet, Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology, Christianity Today, and his book The Spirit in Public Theology: Appropriating the Legacy of Abraham Kuyper. Marcus Goodyear, Senior Editor of The High Calling, first met Dr. Bacote at the Jubilee Conference and we have been looking for opportunities to work together ever since. We are excited to have him leading us this week as our "guest reflector," and we commend his work with enthusiasm!