The key to better a better relationship with God and each other is summed up in a short passage in the New Testament, Romans 15.2-3: “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself.” The acrostic of self – ish – ness is S-I-N. Selfishness lies at the root of most, if not all our sins and problems.
Someone said this motto was affixed to the desk of the president of the H. J. Heinz Company: “God first, others second, and pickles third.” Any one or any business with that sense of priority is bound to be successful. Any home with such as its guiding principle is sure to produce a happy and healthy family.
At times it can be discouraging to ask people to state their top three priorities in life. Often the first two (and sometimes all three) things mentioned concern themselves and their ambition for success and position and what they see as security. Only occasionally will God be mentioned in those first three priorities. Yet when trouble comes, when tragedy or misfortune is encountered, God suddenly becomes a priority.
Our Influence on Children
Sometimes we hear people talk about “problem children.” Children are generally not the problem. If the truth were known, children are nothing more than thermometers that measure the environment in which they are raised and trained. It can be a frightening thought that children, for the most part, behave the way they see their parents behave. Lifestyle is a learned process. Parental values are naturally transferred to the children. So their behavior bears witness to the priorities that govern their home.
When asked to advise couples contemplating marriage, among the most valuable ingredients for a happy and healthy relationship is developing a love that is not self-centered. Selfishness is the graveyard of many a marriage. It takes time and determination to cultivate a healthy respect for the other person. It is only when we are able to untangle ourselves from self that we are ready to join another person in a lifetime commitment. No marriage ever came apart because of mutual love and respect.
Our Perfect Example
The passage cited at the beginning of this essay calls us to look heavenward for the pattern of unselfish living – “…for even Christ did not please Himself.” Oh, how that ought to seize our attention! God Himself, Immanuel, “God with us,” came not as a mighty nobleman to be served, but as an humble servant to serve. His example provides the real key to life. True happiness and fulfillment in life is not found in what we can take from it, but rather in what we can give. So let’s try and remember what the “good book” tells us, and “…let each of us please his neighbor for his good.”