Backseat Lessons

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Proverbs 22:4 (NIV) Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.

If you have more than one child in your family, you have probably heard them yell, “Shotgun!” while running to the car to go somewhere. I am not sure who made riding in the front seat such an exhilarating honor, but it has been the subject of many altercations in our family. It is customary that the oldest child would be the one allowed to ride in the coveted passenger seat unless, of course, both mom and dad are present. Oh the arguments that arise if this rule is ever overturned and a younger child was allowed to take the place of the eldest. What is the big deal about the front seat?

Several years back, I began riding in the backseat allowing one of our children to join dad up front. They love it. I have had many people ask me with perplexed looks, “Why would you sit in the backseat of your own car?” The truth is that I really don’t know when and how it began. It could be that our youngest simply asked me to ride with her so swapping seats with her sister is the beginning of it. But over time, I believe that giving up my seat has allowed me to share a very important message with my children. Humility. That’s right. The thing that gnaws at our flesh the most has somehow made its way into my heart and now is speaking to my children through one simply act. I promise it is not me. I didn’t do it to demonstrate some kind of life lesson but my precious Heavenly Father who loves me and my children so very much has used the simplest act of submission to share the example of His Son to us.

Philippians 2:1-4 (NIV) Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

“In humility, value others above yours, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of the others.” People come equipped with selfishness. It is an innate trait born of the sin that is within us. Coming to Christ, we are given the opportunity to lay down the burden of selfishness in exchange for righteousness that allows us to experience fulfillment and complete satisfaction in Jesus Christ. This comes when we lay down our life before Him and become yoked to the Lord. (Matthew 11:29) This connection to Christ called yoking means that He takes our burden of sin so that we share His Burden to love others more than ourselves. Too many times, we (or I) forget that part. The comfort that I have in Christ should allow me to be an encouragement to other people. The commonality of His Spirit living inside of us should fill me with compassion and tenderness for other people. My joy becomes complete when I am completely likeminded with Jesus which can only happen when I submit my way to the Way (John 14:6) and walk humbly with my  God. (Micah 6:8)

There are unspoken lessons being taught to my children each time I humble myself and take the backseat. It teaches them humility. It teaches them submission. It shows them that it is okay to put others first. It makes them feel important and significant in our family. It allows them to connect with their natural father. It puts them right next to him which gives them an opportunity to comminute with him. Even though I have every right to sit in the passenger seat up front, I make the conscious choice to move back so they can be in the seat of “honor.” Though it is my car and my place, I gladly give it to them because they desire it. Isn’t that what Jesus did for me? He laid down His Life so I could live again. He took the backseat to allow me to come closer to the Father again. His Grace gave me the opportunity to reconnect with My Heavenly Father.

Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV) 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!

Can I be transparent with you? Sitting in the backseat is not that big of a deal. It really doesn’t matter to me where I sit as long as I am in the car and going with them. But to some people, it is a really big deal. I offered the front seat to a friend of our daughter’s so she could sit by her on the way to a fellowship. This young lady stopped abruptly and asked, “Why?” She went on to tell me that her mom would “never” give up the front seat to anyone especially not a kid. How many people do we encounter in a single day who we could take a backseat to? How many people might benefit from humility in God’s People? It is the example of Jesus Christ on the Cross demonstrated for us to live after He was gone. Jesus, who was in very nature God, made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant. Why can’t we? Why won’t we?

Pride is a problem in the church born of religiosity. It is the exaltation of self. For the life of me, I cannot understand why some pastors, apostles and teachers cannot carry their own Bible or IPad to the platform to speak. I cannot fathom the unreachable preachers in our society today who are too important to wallow among the people and reach the common folk so they stand behind a wall of security. The message they carry is not their own. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Do we honor the vessel more than its contents?

Jesus stayed among the people. He was humble. When the disciples tried to build a wall of protection around Him or keep others out, Jesus removed the obstacle to reach out to the people. Jesus didn’t care what they wore, how they looked, or if they met the guidelines and measures of religion. He loved people – all people. He laid down His Life for everyone. Too many times, we will not give up our favorite seat for a visitor in the House of God yet claim we love Jesus with all our heart. Service to God begins with humility and submission to others as Jesus lived and died for us.

I Peter 3:7-9 (NIV) Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Taking a backseat to others in humility and submission IS the kind of service that honors the Lord. It is exactly what Jesus did. He was not begrudging but willingly laid down His Life for us to give us new life again. He didn’t complain and grumble up Calvary’s Hill but stay focused on His Purpose and Passion which is and always will be His People. Jesus was a blessing to ever person who He encountered. His Power, which is His Grace, constantly flowing out of Him to those who reached out to Him. Throughout the course of a single day, we come in contact with a variety of individuals. At the end of the day, if we polled those people, what would they say? Would our kindness, compassion, and love made an impact on their life. To be like-minded with Christ is to live in a posture of humility. He is the ultimate example of such an existence. Who am I to consider my life worth more than my Lord’s? To lay down my life and take up my cross to follow Jesus means that I must learn the meaning of humility and live it every day.

I John 3:16-18 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Humility is not the loudest message we preach but definitely the most significant. Jesus Christ laid down His Life for us. He asks that we lay down our life for our brothers and sisters. Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and truth. What is the message of your life? If you did not say a single thing, would others experience the Love of God just knowing you? It begins with humility. I have never discussed this with my children before yet I see it evidenced in their journey with Christ. Our purpose is to serve the Lord and glorify Him in our attitudes and actions. Our willingness to humble ourselves ushers us closer and deeper in the Father’s Presence. “The first will be last in the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 20) The mother in this chapter only wanted the best for her boys, but God wanted more. He desired fulfillment and completion in them that would last forever. If I lay down my life now, I have forever to look forward to. What an awesome exchange? Now for eternity. Consider hopping in the backseat and letting someone else ride up front today. This doesn’t have to be literal, but I believe God is going to give each of you (and me) an opportunity to express humility and be a blessing! Take it!

James 4:10 (NIV) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.

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