You’ve probably heard the standard pre-flight safety session when the airline flight attendant gets to the part about oxygen masks. The instruction is to give oxygen to a child or another person after you put on your own mask. Why is this important? Because if you are without oxygen at a very high altitude, you will quickly become unable to help another person. So, you first take care of your own oxygen mask before helping another person with theirs.
This serves as a metaphor when it comes to balancing service to others at church with your own spiritual and emotional health. In order to be a good servant to others, you must first take care of your personal relationship with God.
A perfect affirmation of this is the answer Jesus Christ gave when He was asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:36 Matthew 22:36Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
American King James Version×). He replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 Matthew 22:37Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
American King James Version×). Then He said, “the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:39 Matthew 22:39And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
American King James Version×).
Thus, the first and most important responsibility of a Christian is to keep a close relationship with God. That is done through prayer, Bible study, meditation and fasting and by applying God’s commandments to all aspects of your life. Like the oxygen mask metaphor, after you first make sure you are in good shape spiritually, then you can begin to take care of others.
Your physical and emotional needs are important, and you must take care of them if you are to be a help to others. Notice the apostle Paul’s instruction: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4 Philippians 2:4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
American King James Version×). He does not in any way diminish our personal needs, but makes them as important as the needs of others. This follows the second great commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39 Matthew 22:39And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
American King James Version×).
The greatest responsibility of a Christian is to love God first. Jesus Christ set the example by keeping His relationship with His Father His chief priority. He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me” (John 4:34 John 4:34Jesus said to them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
American King James Version×). Likewise, it is a Christian’s first responsibility to love God above all else. After this, we can line up the rest of our personal needs and our priorities for love and service to others.