meditations

The last will be first, even when licking the spoon

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I find it easy to give clothes, money, food and other necessities to those in need but struggle with the serious sickness of a selfish spirit. What does that mean? The very idea of being last is not something I have wanted to embrace much less put to practice. After all, don't I deserve some simple pleasures in life? I work hard. I take good care of my family. They are always fed, and most of the time, the meal is fairly nutritious. Everyone sleeps in bed with sheets that are clean and wake up to clean clothes to wear each day. So why shouldn’t I have a few simple pleasures in life that I can call my own, like licking the chocolate syrup off the spoon. Let me explain.

With four boys in the house, I often have the opportunity to come last. A tradition in my life since I was a young girl is making chocolate milk with Hershey's syrup and mixing up a batch of chocolate chip cookies with extra chocolate chips. The highlight of the experience is licking the chocolate off the spoon when the milk is mixed and having a spoonful of cookie dough. It was a pleasure that I had managed to keep to myself until a few years ago. One of my six-year-olds observed me enjoying the delightfully sweet treat after mixing his milk one day. Since my secret pleasure has been revealed, I rarely get to enjoy it. One particular day when I had been the hands and feet of Jesus to many people, served faithfully in every area of my responsibilities, I wanted a treat. No, I knew I deserved a treat! Then it happened—my son asked to lick the spoon. I wish I could say that with the love of Jesus, I handed him the spoon, but I stood there in a mental argument with the Lord reminding Him of all the great things I had done that day. In a silent pause, I was reminded that I was here to serve, not to be served, so I handed the spoon to my son. Almost immediately, this scripture came to mind: “So the last will be first, and the first will be last." Matthew 20:16 (NIV)

Laying down what you think you deserve is difficult. Putting others’ needs and wants in front of your own does not come naturally. It requires a minute-by-minute reliance on the Holy Spirit to enable you to live beyond yourself. No matter what season of life you are currently in, someone will inevitably ask to lick the chocolate off your spoon, the very pleasure you believe you deserve. Let me encourage you to live beyond yourself in that moment and just hand them the spoon. The blessing you give will come back to you ten-fold. Do you know how I can make that statement? I can because I have lived this truth. After I gave my son the spoon, I remembered that I could dip the spoon right in the can to get as much syrup as I wanted, and I did.

Today, I challenge you to understand that by nature we all have a bit of a selfish spirit. Let's pray that it will be our desire to live outside of that nature and to live in the nature of Jesus, one of gentleness and kindness. I encourage you to ask for the Lord's help to do this today. God Bless You.

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