Your wives, children, and livestock may remain here in the land Moses assigned to you on the east side of the Jordan River. But your strong warriors, fully armed, must lead the other tribes across the Jordan to help them conquer their territory. Stay with them until the Lord gives them rest, as he has given you rest, and until they, too, possess the land the Lord your God is giving them. Only then may you return and settle here on the east side of the Jordan River in the land that Moses, the servant of the Lord, assigned to you. (Joshua 1:14-15)
Relate: I was listening to Perry Noble talk about a time he was listening to a friend talk about refrigerator wars in his house. This friend and his friend’s fourteen year old daughter both absolutely love hot pockets. This father has found that he will have to hide the last couple from every box. He doesn’t know the number of times he has gone to a box in the fridge only to find it was empty. When Perry Noble heard this his thought was, “What a terrible father.” What he actually said out loud was more along the lines of, “Where does love and sacrifice and all that?” The father simply responded, “Just wait till you have your own kids. You’ll understand.”
For Perry Noble it wasn’t hot pockets. It was nutty buddies. A few years after this conversation Perry Noble was sitting there watching TV when his four year old daughter came into the room. She looked up at him with the little dove eyes that every father is biologically unable to resist and asked for the last bite of his nutty buddy. Perry Noble mustered up his willpower, looked at that last little piece, then down to his daughter, and popped it into his mouth. Then Perry Noble went out and bought a box of hot pockets to send to his friend with the message: “I understand”
For me, I don’t think the issue would be food. When I was mulling the thought over, my mind went to my phone. I figure I probably answer one out of ten phone calls. Who is on the other side makes absolutely no difference. How busy I am or not doesn’t matter. The only true factor is my mood. If you just happen to catch me in the rare, right mood, I will answer. It doesn’t matter if it is my mom, my worst enemy, or my best friend. It doesn’t matter if it is the president or the guy telling me I just won on the lotto I never even bought. If my acceptance depends on me answering that phone, I guess I will just have to stay poor. I simply cannot be inconvenienced.
React: We all have a me first tendency that is so hard to flush out of our lives. It is how hard for us to understand how big of a sacrifice Moses was asking from the men from these tribes. The land they have just taken over has not been completely tamed or subjected. Even more, they have not had a time to truly get settled in. Even still, Moses is asking every man of working age to leave his wife and kids behind while he crosses over and helps out the other tribes. We don’t know exactly how long they were on the other side while Joshua fought two wars against a southern and then a northern coalition of kings. At the least it was a good 6-8 months. More likely these campaigns were stretched out over a few years. So the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh had to try and “make do” their first few years in a new land without all the men of normal working age to be there and build/repair the houses, plow the fields, harvest the crops, or provide defense in a volatile land that has just been thrust into a major power vacuum. Moses is telling them, “me first” is not an option.
What is one area this week that I can intentionally put aside the “me first” attitude that sneaks up even on the best of us? Who is someone I see regularly in my day to day living that I can bless even in small and unnoticed ways by putting their needs or desires ahead of my own? Will my life really fall apart if I am unable to get, or have, or do that “one thing” like getting a nutty buddy or ignoring my phone? How can I take one small step closer to loving my world the way Jesus loves me?
Often I am not even aware of the many, many ways I am displaying a me first attitude with the people around me. Often I am unaware of the countless little ways my selfishness and pride rears its ugly head. Help me to be more aware. Help me to be intentional in displaying Your love and small, random acts of kindness to those in my life. Through Your grace and strength I can take that me first attitude and leave it in the grave where it belongs. Help me to keep You first by always putting others needs and wants before my own.