For the past week, I’ve been sick with a cold. I don’t do sick well. The stubborn part of me refuses to be mastered by my illness. I medicate myself and keep trying to live my life as usual, even though that probably doesn’t help my recovery. I secretly hope that people will compliment me on my dedication. Then when I finish the day, I crash in my favorite chair and hope that my wife will wait on me, bringing me food, medicine, and tea! Never mind that she has had a day at least as busy and difficult as mine.
Whose Needs Are My Priority?
So I admire people who do sickness better than me. People who don’t overdo it and who don’t need to impress others with their determination. People who, even when they are sick, are still attentive to the needs of others. I’m reminded of the book, Tuesdays with Morrie. Even with a terminal illness, Morrie was concerned for other people. Even though he had to accept having his most basic needs cared for by others, Morrie saw the grace of God at work.
This Sunday’s readings call us to find the balance between caring for ourselves and giving ourselves generously to others. The reading from Ezekiel challenges us to preserve our lives by turning away from sin. The Gospel reading goes further by reminding us that turning away from sin is more than just saying we are going to do the right thing. The first son said he was going to do the right thing to impress his father. But the second son – who it seems had no interest in impressing his father – realized he had to act.
Make Other People’s Needs Your Priority
For me, it’s the Letter to the Philippians that nails it on the head. “Do nothing out of selfishness or vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.” Turning away from sin and making other people’s needs as important as – or even more important than – our own needs; this is the will of God. Even when it isn’t convenient, or easy, or particularly satisfying. That’s the mark of a disciple of Christ.
In a typical week, how much time do you spend paying attention or responding to other people’s needs?
What do you need to ask God for so that you can place a greater priority on the needs of other people?
When has someone else put your needs before their own?
Copyright 2005-2017 by Brian Singer-Towns
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