Give me a word, Lord: OTHER-CENTERED

John 2:1-5 The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”  “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

I’m not sure who the original author of this story is, but I share it frequently. It is a little long, but definitely worth the read.

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. “What food might this contain?” the mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning: “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.” The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The pig sympathized, but said, “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.” The mouse turned to the cow and said, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.” So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmers mousetrap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmers wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmers wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soups main ingredient. But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmers wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them. The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness. So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn’t concern you, remember: when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another. Each of us is a vital thread in another persons tapestry.

I share this story because it is so very relatable to life as we know it. We hear about problems, but we don’t act on them. We may even tell someone that we are praying for them, but perhaps we don’t really mean it, or we get busy and forget. When we hear of someone else’s troubles, we are quick to think, “that’s not my problem.” Last night in our ladies’ Bible study, we looked at the life of Mary, mother to Jesus. The scripture above was one of the focal scriptures. Mary and Jesus were at a wedding, and Mary noticed that the people hosting the wedding celebration ran out of wine. She didn’t cause a scene. She didn’t call attention to the problem. She realized that the friends who were celebrating would be embarrassed if everyone realized that they ran out of wine during the celebration so she went to Jesus. He had never performed a miracle publicly prior to this event, but Mary went to Him. Perhaps she didn’t have a clue of what He would do to fix the problem, but she knew Him. She knew Jesus, and she trusted that if she told him about the problem, He would take care of it. So much so that without Jesus even saying, “Okay, Mom, I got this,” she went straight to the servants and told them to do whatever Jesus said to do. She had faith that He would take care of the issue.

Mary had a relationship with Jesus. She knew Him as the Son of God, but also, she was privileged with the honor of birthing Him. There was a relationship there. She was able to make her request and trust that Jesus would handle the problem because there was a relationship before the request. But this isn’t the only factor we need to consider. A very important point that we must take not of is that Mary was not self-centered. She was “other-centered.” Mary noticed that there was a problem because her attention was not on herself. She wasn’t upset about the wine running out because she wanted more wine. No, she was worried that her friends would be disgraced or embarrassed because of this issue. She wanted to protect the image of her friends. She showed a love for others, and she wasn’t focused on herself. And she noticed the problem because she was focused on others and not herself.

We live in a “me” society in which it is “all about me.” We have become a self-centered culture. We take selfies for social media. We try to promote ourselves before others. That is not who God designed us to be. The first greatest is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. And the second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-40) Read that again. The second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor. Who is our neighbor? Everyone we come in contact with! That is a whole lot of people to love, and sometimes those people do not appear to be very lovable. So how do we do it? How do we become more “other-centered” instead of “self-centered?” We first fall in love with our Savior. We follow the first greatest commandment and we love the Lord with all of our heart, our soul, and our mind. And when we get this part right, well, the rest becomes rather easy. If will fill our hearts with love for the Lord, we can’t help but have love for our fellow man.

We are all in this journey together. What affects one of us can affect us all. Let us learn to be other-centered today. Love God and love others. It’s very simple actually.

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