We live in an age where men are deeply concerned about their rights and being politically correct. Individual civil rights have become so much of an issue that one man's rights tramples another's underfoot. We have become a self-serving society, with the attitude: "Nothing matters but what matters to me."
In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul wrote: "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."
Paul's exhortation would seem to go against every fiber of our human nature. Man does not want to be lowly in mind, but rather tends to think very highly of himself. It is often difficult to put others first when our flesh cries out to be served. However, Paul is not commanding that we become "doormats" for others to walk on; but to take upon us the mind of Christ and have a servant's heart. We are to consider others and serve them in love.
The scriptures speak clearly on surrendering our rights for the sake of others. Paul spoke often of our spiritual liberty in Christ. Yet, we are to consider what affect our liberty may have on others.
In 1 Corinthians 10:23 he wrote: "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but another man's wealth."
When Paul spoke of wealth, he was not talking about money, but spiritual prosperity. Under grace, everything is lawful to us; yet, not everything is beneficial to the building of our faith, or to the edification of another. Therefore, we must ask ourselves, "Does my freedom cause my brother to stumble?"
It is only natural that man would seek to please himself first. Sometimes, we must have the attitude: "I have rights, too! Therefore I will do whatever I want, regardless of what anyone else may think or say." However, like Paul, we should not seek to please self, but to please others to the glory of God, in Christ.
While it is true that we have rights, the one thing we must always consider is this: "What affect will my selfishness have on those who are looking to see a genuine Christ-likeness in me?" Serving self may not profit self, but what about those who are watching? Let us, therefore, in love, consider one another as we serve the Lord Christ; for, our heartfelt desire should be to see others come to know Him as we do.
Jerry L. Dunn, pastor of Oak Street Baptist Church, Sixth and Oak Streets, can be reached by email at: email@example.com.