Jesus, Others, and then Yourself

              In former Archbishop Desmund Tutu’s and the Dalai Lama’s “The Book of Joy”, Desmund Tutu wrote, “We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it, that we discover the possibility of true joy.” In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the apostle Paul wrote that God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, the apostle proclaimed, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

            Most of the time when I don’t consider Jesus and other people it’s because I am prioritizing myself and my wants. I can be selfish. I am not going out of my way to be selfish, but life gets busy and I get distracted. However, the most memorable and fruitful days I have are the ones where I draw cards for my wife and others over spending the day watching TV or seeing my dog’s big smile and fast tail wag when I play with him instead of staying in bed working. Romans 14:17 reads, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Christians can become one with God and His Holy Spirit through choosing to actively obey His commands. Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.”

            When talking about human weakness when it comes to focusing on others, we also need to mention that it is a fine balance. If humans focus solely on others and do not provide themselves with ample time for self-care, the result can lead to unrighteousness. At times, Jesus encouraged His apostles to rest. Mark 6:30-32 reads, “The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.” 

Ultimately Jesus and His apostles didn’t end up getting their much-needed rest because a crowd of people followed them on foot. However, instead of turning them away because he was tired, Jesus chose to have righteous compassion (Mark 6:33-41). He shifted the focus to God and others. We shouldn’t be running ourselves ragged, but there will be times when we are tired and those weaker than us will be relying on us for help. As Jesus shows us, the way to get through these moments is by turning the focus to God and those who need help. If we do this, it will lead to joy and satisfaction. Mark 6:42 reads, “And they all ate and were satisfied.”

Recognizing and accepting our weaknesses only helps us assist others because it means we can then choose to rely on someone stronger. In 2 Corinthians 12:10 the apostle Paul wrote, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  Paul was encouraging Christians when they faced struggles for being Christians in the early church and he is showing us that the key to conquering all weaknesses is God. Isaiah 40:29 says, “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” Whether we are helping others or taking time for ourselves, our focus needs to be centered on Him.