Wednesday, September 7

Outward Focus

No one should seek his own good, but the good of others. --1st Corinthians 10:24

This principle is more than meets the eye. At the surface it is a moral statement along the same lines as that which Jesus defines as the second greatest commandment: "love your neighbor as yourself." Outside the realm of "good Christian behavior", seeking the good of others can take the form of economic of political policy. I think that although many of us would hope and expect this type of behavior from others and from our world leaders, the population at large rarely adheres this principle and often fails to effectively demonstrate it.

When Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthians, he was addressing a church that was in the midst of a self-centered culture. The Corinthians were largely caught up in personal pleasures, sometimes mistakenly believing that a relationship with God had more to do with what they got out of it rather than what they put into it. As a result, the church was not adequately meeting the needs of the community because it was too caught up in itself.

This same type of thing happens in churches today. The "me" generation has convinced us that we need to look out for ourselves first. After that, any leftover resources or energy can be applied to meeting the needs of others. This should not be so.

Looking to the good of others means more than just providing for them in times of need. It means addressing their spiritual needs as well. This can happen on scales of all sizes. For example, it is just as important for the church at large to offer humanitarian assistance to the victims of hurricane Katrina as it is for one individual to invite a friend to church. Although the two situations are vastly different, bother represent actions that will help others.

Seeking our own good is an attitude that needs changing. If we remain in our self-centered way of thinking, we remain unteachable. In all things we must focus outward and try to see the bigger picture from God's perspective and act accordingly.

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