Romans 12:9-16 (the message)
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
These verses are a fine example of why I personally love reading The Message paraphrase! Practice playing second fiddle…Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. Every time I read this scripture I am challenged. I have to stop and ask myself am I content being second place? Is my heart for reaching out to those without any name recognition or assigned “importance?”
One of the great training grounds in this for me was in my nursing career. Although I no longer practice as an RN, over my 13 years in a fairly large hospital I went from one end of the spectrum to the other. At one point, years into my career, I worked in Cardiac Intensive Care. Many people understand the hierarchy of honor and importance in the world of physicians (a brain or heart surgeon gets more respect than a general practitioner), but this also goes on in nursing! As far as the bedside, critical care nurses are often notorious for believing themselves to be at the top of the nursing food chain! I was far too amazed to be working in critical care to ever reach that point! Later, when my marriage and schedule needed it, I went to work in the supplemental department. This just means I chose my own work hours and was plugged in to whichever floor needed a nurse that day. The “float pool” as it is called, is at the other end of the respect and “somebody” spectrum in nursing. Often pool nurses are given little respect and thought to know little. Anyway, I learned in those years some pride-crushing lessons. See, I knew what I knew! I knew I had been a charge nurse and trained new nurses. I knew I had worked in the CCU. But those nurses on the floors I floated to didn’t know it. The respect and honor I had come to know as a nurse over the years was traded for the ability to make my own schedule and never work another holiday and it was worth it! But, in the transition I learned a bit about being a nobody…playing second fiddle. And in time I was content with it.
The truth is this race to be respected and “somebody” goes on everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. But as believers, Jesus longs for us to have a heart like His. He was the great example. He is the standard. When Jesus walked the earth he not only reached out to the nobodies, he ate dinner and gave his time to those at the bottom of the barrel! The pride and haughtiness of the Pharisees brought chastisement from Jesus, not respect. He didn’t envy them or even compete with them. You know why? Because Jesus knew who He was and what He was about. He didn’t need or care to outshine those around Him…He was all about loving people…befriending the nobodies…and because of that Jesus shined brighter and hotter than anyone…ever.
I am so thankful for my humbling experiences in nursing. Because I knew the value of my time and how my freedom in scheduling affected my family positively, I didn’t miss being a somebody. It became almost funny to me to know how wide my career swung on the pendulum. But because I knew what I was about, because I knew the value and worth of my choices, I learned to be content with obscurity. Thank God for that. There is, however, always another season and a new challenge. See, the Bible clearly says that humility is a precursor to honor. Eventually, when we live with humble hearts…a servant’s life of second fiddle…God will honor us. And then we must once again and frequently check our hearts.
My sincere prayer for my own life is that God would keep me real. God helped me tear down the sides of the spiritual box I was in and has given me freedom to be myself. I have known joy and fulfillment like never before. I have seen God take my ordinary life and use it as I yield. There is no way I want to find myself in another kind of box…one where I crave the admiration or respect of others. I check my heart on a regular basis for pride. It sneaks up on us, you know. And it strangles us. It wraps its’ tendrils around our hearts and draws our focus inward. Everything and everyone gets filtered through how it makes us feel.
I long for God to not only help me behave in a loving way toward others, I want Him to truly fill me up with His love for people. I want to love from the center of who I am, but I can’t do that if at the center of who I am I find…myself. It’s quite freeing to play second fiddle. It’s life-changing to let go of striving to be the great somebody.
There is really only one Great Somebody, after all. And He gave up His rights in a bloody sacrifice on two wooden posts in the greatest display of loving nobodies the world has ever known.