Today’s Scripture: Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Philippians 2:3‑4

I tore through the front door, dumped my child’s travel bag into the shopping cart and took off for the back of the store. There was only one thing on my mind: reaching the family restroom before our daughter had a ‘potty emergency.’

After a dozen steps, I felt someone’s eyes watching me. I turned around and found myself under the withering glare of an elderly lady. If looks could kill, I would be a little pile of ash. After a moment’s bewilderment, I realized what the problem was. Immediately, my face went red.

“Did – did I just take your shopping cart?” I asked with embarrassment.

“Yes.” The lady replied with terseness.

Not knowing what else to do, I said, “I’m sorry. Do you want it back?”

“No.” She answered. Then she added pointedly: “There are plenty of others.”

This awkward situation served to remind me of a very important truth: you can’t attend to the needs of others if you’re focused on your own problems. As humans, we have the tendency to become self-absorbed. We spend our time worrying and fretting about our troublesome finances, our family struggles or problems on the job. When we do so, we neglect the spiritual and emotional needs of our spouses, friends and fellow church members. Their need for blessing and encouragement goes unmet because we were too focused on our situation to see theirs.

Looking beyond our needs to see the spiritual and emotional situations of others is not an accidental process. It is a cultivated behavior. It takes deliberate effort on our part and a conscious decision to put the needs of others above our own situation. That’s what ‘love’ is. Love is a deliberate and willful decision to benefit others without expecting anything in return. When we exercise love toward our brethren, we fulfill the law of Christ and then God is free to bless and work within our life.

Turn your eyes towards others and focus on being a blessing to them. Don’t make their life harder by accidentally swiping their spiritual and emotional shopping cart. Exercise love toward them, and you’ll be amazed at what God can do.

Devotional by C.J. Armstrong