There was a poem by Shel Silverstein that amused me as a kid called “Ladies First” in which a girl named Pamela Purse would yell “ladies first” to get her way and exert privilege over others. In the end, this attitude, quite literally, comes back to bite her (I won’t spoil it, go read the poem yourself!). The “Me First” Attitude isn’t just a problem for Pamela Purse, though. All too often, people go through life with this, and often are miserable because of it. For a believer in Christ, such an attitude is deadly. Consider what Jesus said on the subject:
Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:7-11)
When it all comes down to it, putting Himself in positions of honor isn’t even what Jesus did; as a point of fact, Jesus often was lambasted by those who thought themselves religious for eating with tax collectors, harlots, and sinners of all sorts, people they themselves would NEVER associate with! When John and James’ mother tried approaching Jesus to place her sons in such positions, Jesus said this to her (and to all His disciples):
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28).
Paul goes so far as to say that we ought to have the same attitude of Christ, who enslaved Himself to all, even to the point of the cross! (Philippians 2:1-11). Loved ones, if we wish to be exalted, start on your knees, washing feet, and serving all. Don’t seek a position of prominence, but a position to serve. This is the greatest thing we can do to follow Jesus’ own example. We are to serve and not be served. We are to seek the least position at the table so the Master may exalt us. In this way, we honor Christ by drawing attention away from ourselves and where it deserves to be: on Him and in everything He does.
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.