Whenever someone has told me that something that is about to happen is for my own good, it hasn't often SEEMED to be good.
Spankings I received from my parents as a child come to mind most readily. Ouch !!!
Of course, I'm pretty sure that not everything that was presented to me as for my own good had an initial negative connotation; but I can't remember anything that didn't. And, to be fair, I can't think of a single spanking I received that was undeserved. The discipline delivered at the hands of my parents truly WAS for my own good.
For most of us, we do pretty well at looking out for ourselves and our interests. We know (or THINK we know) how to take hold of what is best for us. Seeking the things that are for our own good comes pretty naturally.
In today's verse, Paul the Apostle turns that around. He says, "No one should seek their own good, but the good of others."
What a radical departure from the world's approach.
This isn't just the "do to others what you want them to do to do" mantra of fairness and justice. It goes way beyond that. At least it makes logical sense to only do to others the things you'd want done to you; that is a reasonable argument. But to ignore what would be best for YOU, and make choices specifically from the standpoint of what would be best for someone else INSTEAD of you -- now THAT sort of decision has to be driven by something massive and utterly magnanimous. And it is.
Paul's example, the lesson in his life from which he draws this pearl of wisdom and inspiration, was learned in a blinding flash of light on the road to Damascus. Paul literally gets knocked on his backside by a bolt from the clear blue sky that was brighter than the sun. (I'll bet THAT hurt his bum as much as a spanking! That could not have been a gentle experience.) Paul was heading to Damascus with orders from the high priest, Jesus made it clear in no uncertain terms who was giving the order now! Jesus told Paul, "You are persecuting ME;" and the truth of the Gospel began to do its work on one of the bitterest enemies of the early church.
While it is certainly true that Christ truly sought Paul's good on the road to Damascus, that was not the first time Jesus has put Paul's good ahead of His own. He had also done that when He laid aside His heavenly glory to be born of a virgin. He had done that when He sacrificed His life upon the cross. And He had demonstrated His love for Paul, putting him first, when Christ rose from the grave and purchased our place in heaven with Him. And therein was the lesson Paul learned. Jesus had been putting His own good aside and seeking Paul's long before Paul was aware of it.
Christ is the model. Paul and others who follow Christ are to put the example He gave into practice. Put others first, it will demonstrate the love of Christ and the character of Christ.
Why? Because the world is a "me first" place. Everyone looks out for "number one."
As Christians, those who truly are disciples of the Lord Jesus, we also look out for "Number One."
But He is "Number One." Not me.
So, as I seek to serve Him well, I lay my desires and needs aside.
I serve Him by CHOOSING to seek the good of others FIRST - because HE did.