“Considering not only your own things but also the things of each other.”
Clearly, this statement goes hand in hand with the words that have come before it…that of considering others as more significant than yourself. We have become very much a “me first” generation. We focus on taking care of our own needs first then the needs of our families. Then, after we take care of our own needs, we look to the community and to the church with whatever happens to be left over. Such is not the definition of sacrifice; it is the definition of selfishness. Abel offered to God that which was best while Cain offered to God that which was left over…which did God accept? Whose offering does our offering look more like? Cain’s?
Paul gives us the definition for a humble Christian lifestyle right here in these few words: count not only your own needs as important, but also look to meeting the needs of your neighbor…particularly those neighbors who happen to be born-again believers. If we, as a church, want to be seen once again as a vital member of our community, then this is how it will take place…we will serve the needs of others and not just needs that we perceive we have for ourselves.
Loved ones, God has a habit of using a life that is not interested in his or her own glory, but gives all of the glory to God. One of the ways we learn to have that mindset is by counting the needs of others as more significant than our own. Truly, that does not come easily to us; our sin nature resists it; but it is that for which we should strive. And like the verse above, when I meet with people in counseling situations (especially marital counseling situations) 9 times out of 10, the source of the problem is selfishness. Each party wants needs met before they will be willing to meet the needs of their spouse. Until we adopt the mindset that we are interested in our spouse’s needs (regardless of whether she meets ours) and we trust in God to meet all of our needs through prayer, then we will be stuck in frustration. Joy comes when we care for each other.
A story is told of a man getting a tour of heaven and hell. In Hell he found that people were all skinny and emaciated and then he saw why…they all had arms that were fused straight (no bending at the wrist or elbow). They could not feed themselves. Then the man went to heaven and found that people’s arms were fused straight as well, yet people were well fed and content. Then he saw why: everyone fed one another, not themselves. That is a picture of what Paul is speaking of here but I would put forward another thought — not only ought we expect the body of Christ to feed each other (not themselves) in heaven, should we not expect that on earth as well? If we don’t strive for this, we rob ourselves of true blessedness.