Recently I had the honour of conducting my first wedding ceremony. One of the young men who used to be in my youth group was getting married. To be honest I think I was more nervous than the happy couple. I wanted it to be perfect for them and the responsibility weighed heavy. Added to this was the fact that this was our first trip out with Little Welford where there was lots of other people present. After the first song I took my place and said – “If the Bride and Gloom would like to join me…”
After that awesome start things went quite smoothly. As well as asking me to conduct the ceremony they had also asked me to do the message and when I was preparing it soon became clear what God wanted me to share. I thought about all the things we tell young soon to be weds, all the advice we give them and how most of it is inappropriate if not plain wrong. “The first year is the worst!” we chirp, “There goes your freedom!” we claim, “I tell my spouse everything!” we lie, and the killer “Relationships are about give and take.”
Give and take? Sounds like a quick path to selfishness to me, not that I need much help to indulge in self. I mean it sounds good, right? It sound fair, doesn’t it? Give some, get some back. What could possibly go wrong? Well in my case the answer is me, I go wrong. Sooner or later I stop thinking about the give and start demanding the take. “I’ve been really kind” I think “But so and so isn’t really upholding their end of the bargain!” And so it goes. My focus shifts from the other persons needs to my ‘rights’ and I’ve already lost.
I suggest, as I suggested at the wedding, that a much better plan is to get rid of the take and simply give and give. Give without thinking about the return, give for the sheer joy of it, give to meet another’s need, give to force you gaze away from yourself. Give because Jesus did.
Philippians 2:5-10 ‘In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’