If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you — then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand." Philippians 2:1-4 (The Message)
Paul was an "I am 3rd" person.
He wasn't always that way having been educated and groomed for success as an "I am first" person. You don't get more "I am first" than killing people who present a challenge to your faith.
So what happened to change him from an aggressive "I am first" person to one of the greatest "I am 3rd" people who ever lived? He met Jesus up close and personal on the road to Damascus. As a result he submitted to God, surrendered to God's Spirit and began serving God's people.
I dare say you never would have heard of Paul's greatness if he had not become an "I am 3rd" person. He became great by dedicating the rest of his life to making other Christ-followers great. That becomes obvious in his letter to the members of the Church in Philippi.
Writing from jail, Paul gives some specific practical advice on how to be an "I am 3rd" person. He shares six things they SHOULD do as an "I am 3rd" person and three things "I am 3rd" people don't do.
"I am 3rd" People:
- "Agree with each other." Literally, "have the same mind" or "think the same way". How do you do that? By coming into agreement around God's Word and thinking like Jesus thinks.
- "Love each other." Jesus said, "Love others as you love yourself." So loving others means giving them something you wish you had or meeting a need for them that is going unmet in your life.
- "Be deep-spirited friends." Connect with other believers at a deep spiritual level. Love deeply and allow others to love you.
- "Put yourself aside." Bypass your own desires and needs in favor of the needs of others.
- "Help others get ahead". Become a cheerleader, a promoter and a fan of others. Use whatever influence or power you might have to advance their status and standing.
- "Forget yourself long enough to lend a helping hand." Another way to put this is remember to be third as you help others be first.
"I am 3rd" people don't:
- "Don't push their way to the top." - "I am 3rd" people are not self-seeking or self-centered. They rise as a result of lifting others to the top.
- "Don't sweet talk your way to the top." - "I am 3rd" people don't use flattery or compliments to gain an advantage in their organization.
- "Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage." "I am 3rd" people don't use others they use whatever influence or advantage they may have to give the advantage to others.
"I am 3rd" people live a counter-intuitive lifestyle! They do for others exactly what they want or need others to do for them! They obey the First Commandment admonition to "do unto others as you would want the to do for you!"
You should know by now if you are an "I am 3rd" person or not by what you are doing and by what you are NOT doing!!
What will you do now?