St Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church
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Looking Out For Others

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interest of others
Philippians 2: 4.

We are reminded today by our Holy Mother Church that our created destiny is to be saints, to co-reign with our God in heaven for all eternity. A saint is one who does the will of our God in all the circumstances of daily living. And when we read about and study the lives of the saints, we notice one thing they all have in common. They are more concerned about others than they are about themselves. And the primary reason for this is that they took seriously directed comments and observations by our Lord which most others either do not notice or do not want to consider.

Our loving faith response to the Saviour is one of the believer's most important characteristics. One day our Lord was teaching the disciples and warned them that due to lack of adequate reciprocity to his first offered love, genuine believers and those outside the circle of belief would be scandalized. Then enumerating what realistic course of action is to be pursued in increasing and living a life of faith, the gentle, but insistent Saviour teaches us,

"If one of you had a servant plowing or herding sheep and he came in from the fields, would you say to him, `Come and sit down at table? Would you rather not say, Prepare my supper. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink afterward. Would he be grateful to the servant who was only carrying out his orders? It is quite the same with you who hear me. When you have done all you have been commanded to do, say `We are useless servants. We have done no more than our duty"' Luke 17: 7 - 10.

People who think they are doing God a favor by being present in church for worship on Sundays and holy days will never become saints until they change their thinking and then, of course, their lifestyle. If they are in church at appropriate times, it must be with the correct approach and spiritual dimension. Simply being physically in church at the right times does not make you a Christian any more than your standing in a garage makes you an automobile!

Holiness and sanctity in life is only possible now in our life because the Holy Spirit has come among us. When Christ returned to the Eternal Father, He promised us: "If you love me and obey the commands I give you, I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter to be with you always: the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, since it neither sees him nor recognizes him, but you can recognize him because he remains with you and will be within you" John 14: 15 - 7.

In giving of ourselves, we manifest the essence of Jesus' character, for it has always been his nature to think more about others and their needs than He thinks of himself. Why else would He humble himself and become "...obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" Philippians 2: 8?

Unfortunately, our natural tendency is to consider our own interests first, to look at everything from the perspective of our own needs and more often, unfortunately, our wants. But with the grace of Jesus Christ, we can unlearn that habit. We can begin to think of the best interests of others, their concerns and their actual needs which are far different from their wants. That is precisely why in the litany of prayer we speak of God supplying our needs because we can easily do without many of things we simply think we want.

And so we must ask ourselves: Do we consider the interests of others more important than our own? Do we get as excited about what our God is doing in and through us for others? Do we long to see others grow in grace and gain recognition, though it may have been our efforts that made them successful? Are we concerned only about the needs of our relatives, our loved ones, our friends? To do good for them is not extraordinary or Christ-like because according to the testimony of our Lord, even non-believers do that! What about the legitimate needs of total strangers, even enemies? Do we ever think to pray for the intentions of others whose need of soul surpasses our own? Do we notice hurting people on the streets for a fleeting moment, but remember them continually in intercessory prayer? Do we find satisfaction in seeing our spiritual children surpass us in the work they are called and granted abundant grace to do? If so, such is the measurement of greatness.

We are most like our Lord when our thoughts for ourselves are easily lost in our thoughts and concern for others. There is no greater love than that expressed by our Saviour. "There is no greater love than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you" John 15: 13, 14. Becoming a saint is doing what the Lord expects and commands!

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