At the beginning of a new year, it’s normal for our thoughts to dwell on what’s ahead and to contemplate the challenges and changes that might be in store for us over the next 12 months. And while it’s natural for our eyes to become fixed in the direction we are going, problems come when our focus is drawn away from seeking God’s goals for our lives and is instead drawn to the goals of other people.
Since the most common desire of many is the acquisition of money and stuff, it’s commonplace for our attention to drift in that direction as well. As a result, our main thing focus becomes the people who are directly ahead of us in the race, and our own position relative to our ‘competition.’ Comparison then becomes the standard by which we begin to measure personal success. From that perspective, it’s difficult for anyone to see themselves as blessed materially, because the only ones that we ever notice are those who clearly to have ‘so much more’ than us.
The consequence of that forward-focused obsession is that we become oblivious and insensitive to the legitimate and real needs of those who are less fortunate.
Paul warned the young Philippian believers about the trap of becoming self-focused and cautioned them to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Phil 2:3-4) Then he gave them… and us… a powerful picture of our responsibility to those around us. He said “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” (vs 5) That is, when you interact with others, think like Jesus. Act like He did. And to paraphrase verses 6-8, though Jesus was God in the flesh here on earth, He didn’t focus on exalting Himself. Rather than demanding His rights, He noticed the great need of humanity around him and gave Himself completely for us.
So as you begin to think about where you want to be a year from now, instead of only looking forward at what YOU want but don’t have, why don’t you take a moment to look backward for a change? Make it your goal this year to notice someone who is behind you on the path. Stick out your hand and offer to assistance. Invest yourself in helping others achieve, grow and thrive! Always keep in mind that God’s ultimate goal and desire for all of us is to advance farther down the path of righteousness, to invest in others, and develop a closer walk in fellowship with Him!