Value God and People First
However subtle the values of many in our world come through clearly: love things, and use people (and God) to get them. Jesus’ ethic is just the opposite: love God and people, and use the resources you have been given to show that love.
Some of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day love the law of Moses sincerely. But their love of the law blinded some of them to the demands of loving people. The same could be said for many of us in the church. Too often we love our traditions—our rules—our accepted ways of worship more than we love the people for whom that worship is intended.
As stewards of the relationships God gives us, we are called to value God and people first in all we do. For instance, we must guard against the tendency to view visitors to our churches with this question first in mind, “I wonder how much money he could give to the church? I wonder what talents she has to give to the church?” The first question should be: “What can I do to love this person, develop a relationship, and witness to God’s love in my life?”
—Dr. Jay Earheart-Brown
- Think of a time you felt used by someone. How did that experience make you feel? What effect has it had on your relationships?
- What are some specific ways that we as Christian stewards show more concern for rules or traditions than we do for people?
- What do you think Jesus meant by saying, “The Sabbath was made for humanity, not humanity for the Sabbath?” How does that relate to Jesus saying, “I have come not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it?”
- List some specific ways that we could be better stewards of our relationships with people.
How Do I Act?
- Examine advertisements (television, radio, or print) and identify those which give the message that things are more important than people. Make a poster or collage that contrasts the values of materialism with Jesus’ valuing of persons.
- Think about some recent experiences in your life in which a Christian was more concerned with following the rules than in loving people.
- Talk to several people in your community who are not members of your church. Ask about their perception of your church, and report to your church session any interesting findings about how outsiders view you.
- Include in your daily prayers for this week a prayer for people you have used as objects to gain something you wanted.