Monday, March 4, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: God First


God first, others second
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

We keep a sign in our house that says, “God first, others second, self last.”

I thought I put it there for my kids, but as a reformed people-pleaser, I now know it’s there just as much for me as for them.

See, I’ve always felt like that awkward girl—the one who didn’t quite fit in. I was painfully shy, but I moved around a lot and also did a lot of theater, so I learned enough social skills to get by. Still, making real, lasting friendships wasn’t easy. Between trust issues and girl drama, I was always overly concerned about whether people liked me or what I could do to make friends. People-pleasing became an idol in my life.

Finally one day, well into my adulthood, I had enough of the games and the worrying. As my relationship with God grew stronger and I became more committed in my faith, I realized it no longer mattered what others thought. It only mattered what God thought.

But it was hard to unshackle my former chains. I’d become somewhat of a slave to my people-pleasing mentality. I had to retrain myself to “hit pause” or “reset” when an unhealthy thought would enter my head, to shut down my initial instinct to wonder, “Hmm, what might they think?” Instead, I focused on whether I was pleasing God.

Today, I hope this has become a natural habit. But I know I am a flawed human woman with a foot in two worlds: my eternal future with God and this temporary, earthly realm. And sometimes the voices of others clamor for attention so loudly that they threaten to drown out God’s almighty call on my heart.

I try my best to combat that by beginning my day in prayer and with Bible reading, and by being aware of the struggle between the world and the Lord. While I have an obligation and a mission to spread God’s love in the world, there’s a big difference between loving the people in the world and being influenced by those people.

That’s why the apostle Paul’s encouragement to the early church in Colossae speaks to me today. In his letter, Paul tells us to do all we do—whether that’s loving our family members or in our labors—in the name of Jesus.

“Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people. You know that you will receive an inheritance as a reward. You serve the Lord Christ.”
 ~Colossians 3:23-24 (CEB)

You serve the Lord, he said—not people—so serve from the heart. Serve joyfully, in love, just as we love our Lord, for loving and serving our family is loving God. Loving and serving others is loving God. Loving and serving our “master” (modern day read on this is “boss”) is loving God.

God first. I pray I can always remember that.

~*~
Author Bio:

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 ACFW Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden.

She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, and a member of the Wholly Loved Ministries team.

Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com/shiningthelight

21 comments:

  1. Amen! Oh Jessica, I think so many of us have struggled with the same issue of people-pleasing. (I know I have!) I love how you wrote, "there’s a big difference between loving the people in the world and being influenced by those people." I need to remember that as God helps me to move forward and away from my past of people-pleasing. Thank you. Blessings to you!

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    1. Thank you, Joey!!! We are definitely kindred spirits. :-)

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  2. Great post! I am also a reformed people-pleaser so I can totally relate. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. Excellent reminder. Reminds me of what I've been reading in "A Woman after God's Own Heart." Seeking Him and what would please Him before all else when it comes to decisions and life actions.

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    1. Amen!!! Our goal is to seek and please Him first!

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  4. As someone who tends toward people-pleasing myself, I appreciate the sentiment that retraining is what we need to focus on, and that's a process. Changing how we think about things makes all the difference!

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  5. Amen. God first. :-) Great message.

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  6. Sound thinking: "The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe." Proverbs 29:25.

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  7. I totally relate to what you said! People pleasing has always been a weakness of mine, especially in romantic relationships. Thanks; as always, you've given me something to think and pray about. Thanks!

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  8. Sometimes I catch myself falling back into people pleasing mode. Thanks for reminding me, God first

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  9. Jessisca, this is a message I need to hear again and again! Thank you for sharing your life story and how the truth of God's Word speaks a louder word for your/our lives. I certainly struggle with pleasing others. Little by little, I pray that my love for Jesus, makes me desire to please Him more. Bless you and your ministry!

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  10. Great post, Jessica! It's always so important for us people-pleasers to keep our priorities straight. God first! The opinion of others is of no significance compared to our commitment and our loyalty to Jesus. We follow in his footsteps, imitating his ways and obeying his leading, regardless of the direction others would prefer we go and regardless of what they think about us for going the opposite direction.

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    1. So true, Melinda! Thank you so much!! God bless you. :-)

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