Others Always Come First

By Joey and Carla Link

August 24, 2022

Like most parents, we thought the needs of others should come before our own, and our kids needed to learn this important truth too. This verse was one our family lived by.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Luke 10:27
This sounds simple, but in the world we live in we are all surrounded by people shouting, “Me, Me, Me!” especially in the culture of entitlement (being told we deserve everything we want without working for it) prevalent today. Society adopted a mantra a few years ago that took loving yourself to entirely new levels. We were told we have to take care of ourselves first. A lot of our problems were because we weren’t showing ourselves enough love. Sadly, this has permeated into the Christian culture as well, and it is not only wrong, it is sin.

Why? Because we are told throughout Scripture to put the needs of others above our own, as the verse above says. First – who is our neighbor whose needs we are to put before our own. A lawyer asked Jesus this question in Luke 10 and Jesus told a story about men who passed a man on the road who had been overtaken by robbers and was beaten, stripped of all he had and left for dead. Only one man stopped to help him, and Jesus told those listening that we need to be like the Samaritan who helped the man, for our “neighbor” is anyone in need.

Secondly, when Jesus told the lawyer to love the Lord your God with all you have in you and then love your neighbor, He didn’t end it there. He went on to say we are to love those in need as much as we love ourselves

What is implied here is the fact we already love ourselves. God gave each of us a love for ourselves at birth. If we did not love ourselves, we would not protect ourselves from harm and we would not have a reference point from which to love others. Now this doesn’t mean that we are to put others before taking care of basic needs like making sure we eat healthy, that we are clothed appropriately and secure a place to live in addition to providing for our families. He is saying we are not to elevate our “wants” above the needs of those less fortunate.
So how do we teach this to our children? In the parenting class, Growing Kids God’s Way, we learned about 6 groups of people and other things we are to show honor and respect to. For those of you who have taken this class or the Parenting from the Tree of Life class, can you name these 6 areas? Can your kids?

All of us should treat the elderly, our parents and people in authority with respect and honor. Add peers (neighbors/friends) and siblings to this group and nature (plants, animals, the land and the sea) and property (yours and others) and we have enough to work on for life.

As a family, we went out of our way for others. When we were newlyweds, our church was at the back gate of a large military base. On holidays, we filled our home with military families who could not go home. We taught our kids to look for those at school, on their sports teams or at church who always sat by themselves and go sit by them. We feel the blessing of God when we reach out to others, and that is better than any “self-love”.
When training your kids to think of others first, use this phrase:
Next time one or more of your kids and/or teens are being self-focused, pull them aside one-by-one and ask this question: 

Who are you thinking of right now?”

-Your child/teen will respond he/she is thinking of himself. 
Ask him who he should be thinking of
-He will respond he should be thinking of others.
Given the circumstance your child is in at the moment, get specific
Ask him exactly who he should be thinking about at that moment. (The sibling he just hit; the sister whose toy he just broke, even accidentally; you, for not taking the trash out).
Then ask him to think of one way he can show this person he is willing to put their needs above his own.
-When your child comes up with something, ask him if he is willing to do it right then. 
-If he says “No,” he gets to sit and do nothing (including talk and get out of the chair) until he is willing to do what he came up with. 
-Unless your child is under five years of age, resist the temptation to tell him what he could do to show kindness to the one he offended.
After you have been working on this for a while, all you will need to do is whisper in their ear, “Who are you thinking of right now?” or “Who should you be thinking of right now?” and more often than not, your child will change the direction he is headed in.
We encourage you to memorize this verse as a family.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Luke 10:27