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Giving Preference to One Another

In the beginning there was one person. God thought it was not good that he be alone, so God made another person. Then there was just two.

I was once sitting around, minding my own business and sensed the Lord was prompting me to study Genesis chapters 1-3. I said aloud, “Lord, everyone knows that story. Why would You want me to read it and study it???”

Then I heard this deep inside my heart: “When did Eve become Eve?”

I sensed it was a trick question but it had the Lord’s intended effect: I opened my Bible and read it. I was surprised to find out that Eve’s original name was not “Eve”; rather, her original name was “Woman”.

“Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’” (Genesis 2:22-23)

I did some research on this and came to understand that when Adam (which means “man”) first saw her he saw sameness with himself in her so he basically named her “of me”. Every time his or her name was called out in Eden he and she were referenced in terms of one another.

They were one.

Then the Fall of Man occurred and after God spelled out the consequences of their choice to not obey and trust Him Adam did something: he changed Woman’s name.

“And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” Genesis 3:20)

When Adam did this he chose a significant new name for her. It is significant because it highlighted physical differences between them. The word “Eve” means “mother of all the living.”

Adam re-named Eve because one of the tragic effects of the Fall of Man is that we have all been driven apart and our differences becomes reasons to see everyone else as “them” and to reject one another over differences. Things we hold in common seem to mean less and less to us and differences become the wedges that keep people apart.

We are all born into this mentality.

Then some of us receive Jesus as our Lord and Holy Spirit unifies us all in the most significant way there is: we are spiritually placed into one body: the body of Christ – the Church.

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)

At the instant in which we are born again all Christians experience an incredibly important thing: everything that was lost in the Garden of Eden is restored and we become one with God again and equally important, one with one another as well.

Jesus prayed in great anticipation of this event:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. “ (John 17:20-23)

So, in Christ we really ARE all one. However, being born into a world that is saturated with the effects of the Fall of Man we already know how to live as stand-alone people – separated from everyone else – like Adam did after the Fall. I have a term for this mentality:

“ME-centric”

That term popped into my head and that prompted me to write this piece. I can only imagine the Lord gave it to me.

Then, I was reading in Romans and found this passage:

“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.” (Romans 12:10-13)

While the whole passage speaks of serving the Lord by caring about others, the term “in honor giving preference to one another” really jumped out at me.

This term stands in stark contrast with the way the world is now as a result of the Fall of Man. We come out of our mothers’ womb “ME-centric”. We reference everything to ourselves, our needs, our wants….our desires.

The Lord, in the Bible, refers to this near constant focus on rampant self-protection and self-provision as “flesh” or “self” or “sin nature” (depending on your favorite version of the Bible.) The Greek word used here for “flesh” is “sarx” and it literally referred to the meat of an animal in that culture.

The Holy Spirit is telling us that when we walk after the flesh we are living as if all we are is animals and not like the humans we were originally created to be - in the very image of God Himself.

When we live like that our needs become more important than the needs of others around us and are certainly more important to us than is the Lord’s hope for how we could live. We become ME-centric.

We truly HAVE fallen.

Our rescue from being ME-centric began with Jesus being focused on OUR needs.

“(Jesus) who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

Why did Jesus do that? Because WE needed Him to do that. (Jesus never has been "ME-centric".)

In Luke 5:31 Jesus says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.”

Being ME-centric IS sick. We were ALL sick, so He came to heal us.

The Apostle Paul tells us that God has always planned that we would someday be born again people would experience a process that He would work deep inside us.

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29)

His plan was to conform us from being ME-centric into the image of Jesus. The word “conform” comes from a Greek word that means “to be fashioned into.”

My favorite aspect of the idea of Holy Spirit fashioning us into something is that it is so personal. His HANDS, if you will, work us like refined clay…..patiently and lovingly remolding us until we look like Jesus.

Isn’t that a delicious image?

God has not chosen to take free will from us. Just as we have the God-given right to resist salvation, we now still have the right to resist Him as He conforms us back to the image of Himself. We are free to resist Holy Spirit.

God encourages us to, instead, resist the world’s efforts to conform us to its image.

“And do not be conformed to this world…” (Romans 12:2a)

He encourages us to allow the Spirit to “transform” (metamorphosis) us by “renewing” (renovating) our minds.

“but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2b)

God’s will is that we be who He originally created us to be: the representation of His glory on the earth.

How difficult would it be, do you think, for us to obey what the Spirit told us in Romans 12:10-13 if Jesus was free to live this way through us?

“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.” (Romans 12:10-13)

Can’t you see Jesus being affectionate with others…giving preference to others? Can’t you see Him being diligent, fervent in spirit and serving His Father? I can.

Is it hard to imagine Jesus rejoicing in hope, being patient in tribulation and being steadfast in prayer? It’s not hard for me to imagine that.

I can imagine Him sharing with His brothers and sisters and being hospitable. I can imagine Him having no trouble at all honoring Romans 12:10-13. I have, however, seen myself having difficulty doing these things because of “ME-centric-ness”.

How about you?

Perhaps you are moved to join me in presenting ourselves to the Holy Spirit to cooperate with Him as He conforms us to the image of Christ.

My hope (joyful expectation) is that the “ME-centric” mentality will evaporate from our souls and in its place will be the Jesus mentality of caring more about others than we do about ourselves.

Earlier I quoted a passage about the incarnation of Jesus from Philippians 2:

“who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

The verse just before that passage says this:

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5)

When we present ourselves to God to allow Him to have His way with us we WILL have in us the mind that was in Jesus….and Father will do with us what He did with Him:

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him…” (Philippians 2:9a)

I know this sounds like it is too much to be true….but God says it is true nonetheless:

“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time…” (1 Peter 5:5b-6)

Its time.

May we witness God’s hand in our lives to the degree that we surrender the temptation to resist His work in us. May we witness the banishment of our “ME-centric” attitudes and experience them being replaced with the mind of Christ.

May we see a “God at work” sign hung on our souls.

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)

Pastor Mike McInerney

Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.

Decatur, TX

© November 4, 2015

(For use with permission)

©2018 by Mike McInerney Ministries