“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” Romans 15:1
On any given day, it is estimated that the average adult makes approximately 35,000 remotely conscious decisions. Researchers at Cornell University estimate that we make 226.7 decisions each day on food alone.
The decisions we make in a given day vary on a scale of importance and impact. Choosing to set (or not set) your alarm, what we choose to eat, which route you take to work, and many more decisions impact us and carry varying levels of “consequences.”
If you are anything like me, most of these decisions (quite possibly all) are run through a filter of, “How does this impact me?” It is helpful to peel back another layer; I would also venture to say that I (we) will favor whichever side of decisions that favors us more, or “costs” us less (and I am not just talking strictly about money). I am not here to say that this thought process is inherently evil, but I would say that it is human nature.
If you think of yourself as a “nice, good or thoughtful” person, I would hope that a handful of your approximately 35,000 daily decisions are done for the good of others. I mean, Jesus did list “loving your neighbor as yourself” as the second greatest commandment. Loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind makes for a great start (ok, the best start), but there is more that we are called to do.
Jesus got right to the point when He challenged the disciples (and us) with these words recorded by Luke and Matthew, also known as “The Great Commission.” “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me’” (Luke 9:23).
These words challenge our very human nature, the sometimes subconscious and sometimes conscious tendencies or instinct to put ourselves first. We are called to deny ourselves daily, tending to the neighbors at our right and our left. He continues in the next verse, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
This goes against the very framework of our flawed selfish nature. You mean I have to give up my life in order to save my soul? That is a little more than just a monetary cost!
In closing, I would like to leave you with the idea that decisions are not made as a result of a process of the mind, but rather of the heart. When it comes to the decisions that we make each day, who is it that we are choosing to serve? Then if and when we do choose to serve our neighbors, what are our intentions? These might be tough questions to reflect on or to answer. Jesus is calling us to first love Him with everything we have, and secondly to love our neighbor as we would ourselves. In reality, these are the first two decisions that we face each and every day.