Text Size: Zoom In

Others First!

September 16, 2018

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:4

I’ll never forget the time my wife, Martie, and I were traveling on a rather extended ministry trip that involved several segments to our journey. We were in and out of planes, and every plane was packed with people. We felt like sardines in aluminum cans. To make matters worse, our seating assignments had been consistently terrible. But on the last leg of the journey, we noticed on our boarding passes that we had the best non-first-class seats on the plane—the front aisle seats in the coach section.

We looked forward to stretching our legs and enjoying the flight home. As we checked in at the gate, however, the flight attendant looked at our seat assignments and promptly informed us that she needed to reassign our seats so that someone who needed the leg room could be in the bulkhead row.

My first impulse was to make a scene and demand my rights. After all, we deserved to have good seats on the final leg of our journey! But I knew what we had to do. It doesn’t take long to figure it out when you start with the question, “What would Jesus do in a moment like this?”

It was an opportunity to display an act of servanthood, to turn our focus from ourselves to the needs of others. While my demanding, self-serving impulses kicked and screamed, I knew that the Holy Spirit was pressing us to do what was good and right. It wasn’t a very comforting thought as I walked past the “good seats” and spent the flight with the back of the headrest in front of me pushed squarely in my face—but it was the right thing!

I wish I could finish the story by saying that, as a result of our gracious response, God let me lead the person next to me to the Lord, or that some other phenomenal, unexpected outcome had proven the worth of my servant’s heart. But nothing of that magnitude happened. I don’t even know if the people who got the good seats realized the sacrifice we had made, or if they felt grateful for their good seats.

But the issue is not in the outcomes but in the condition of our hearts. Maybe God knew that I needed another practice run at serving to get me ready for a really big serving moment in the near future. I don’t know. I just know that routine surrender is the distinguishing mark of His followers and that every opportunity to treat others as more important than ourselves makes us more like Christ. After all, He made the ultimate sacrifice for my place in His kingdom—to give me a seat that can never be taken away!


  • Read Philippians 2:1-11. In what ways did Jesus demonstrate the principles outlined in Philippians 2:3-4? According to Philippians 2:6, what rights did He have to make other choices?
  • Think of a time when you were the beneficiary of someone else’s kindness. How did it make you feel? On a much larger scale, we are the beneficiaries of Jesus’ kindness. How can you express your gratitude to Him today?
  • Ask the Lord to give you an opportunity today to display the heart of Jesus by looking out for the interests of someone else.