Looking out for number two

Step 9. Are seeking through prayer and meditation to make a conscious effort to consider others better than ourselves.

Have you ever gone to a funeral and learned how fascinating an acquaintance actually was and been sad you hadn’t bothered to take the next step and make that person a friend? You might avoid that next time by looking out for number two.

It takes prayer and meditation to consider someone else more important than yourself because we are not naturally inclined this way. We are naturally inclined to look out for number one. Looking after someone else’s interests as well as our own takes the Spirit of God to pull off. Looking out for number two (and three, and four …) is part of God’s thing. We need God to do it.

It used to be that all we cared about was someone’s salvation, and because this was urgent, we would cut to the chase and go right for the spiritual jugular. Are they saved? Do they know Jesus? Two very important questions, just not necessarily the first ones you want be asking.

To be sure, drive-by evangelism probably has been successful in a few cases, but by and large, people feel put upon but such things. They don’t feel important; they feel like a target — like they are important to us only as they become interested in what we are interested in; what we are driving at. We have an agenda and it doesn’t include getting to know someone for who they are.

People need to be an end in themselves. We need to be enamored with people. This is possible because they are made in the image of God and though we are all fallen, we bear in our souls the reason for which we were made. Dig deep and you will find buried treasure in everyone.

I’m going to suggest we make other people our business. We are fact-finders on a mission. Make it our business to find out who someone is, what they like/dislike, how are their kids, what are their dreams, what are their hobbies, what’s their favorite sport, what makes them tick?

My guess is that most people will surprise us if we’d take the time to get to know them. They will turn out to be far more interesting than we imagined. That’s because we imagined them based on our information, not theirs. We judged them initially based on any number of pre-conceived notions. We get to know someone, we find out we were wrong about them. No one is that simple or uncomplicated. We all have personality twists and turns that take time to find.

Which is why we are here for the journey. We are walking along together, finding out about each other — growing in the knowledge of God and finding Him while we look out for number two.

  1. How can we consider others better than ourselves without having a self-image problem? If we consider ourselves to be the least of the least, how can we believe that we have value?
  2. How would seeing with the eyes of Jesus instead of our own make a difference in our relationships?
  3. How is it possible that there is something true or noble or right or pure or lovely or admirable in every person? Is there anyone you can think of for whom this is not the case? Even through Christ’s eyes?
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2 Responses to Looking out for number two

  1. Marc says:

    John, on question 1 I would respond with a quote from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis:

    To even get near [humility], even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert.

    Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.

    Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.

    If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

    I think this is what Jesus talked about when he said “deny yourself.”

    And one thing about Pharisaism in the world today, look at the flap over the Starbucks cups, which I think is just silly. But people have to find something to get outraged about. Talk about straining at gnats and swallowing camels, LOL!

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