[air masks and matthew 7]
Sidenote: this post was written by me on the way to the conference… But since I didn’t get a chance to post it properly (I didn’t take Jacy the Laptop with me, only my iPod), it goes live only today – when I have already arrived back home.
A few days ago I finally did what my heart has longed for so long. I was going to the conference and the way to get to the conference was by flying. I missed flying so much, the exhilarating feeling of being pressed against the back of the seat when the plane is gaining speed and then you sense that you’re no longer earth-bound. You look outside the window and you see all you know to be big growing smaller and smaller, while the clouds get closer and the Sun gets brighter. (Yes, I LOVE flying… even despite the pain in my ears when the plane lands.)
As I settled comfortably in my seat, the flight attendants were showing where the emergency exits are and what to do in case of a plane crash. Out of curiosity, I dug out the little manual with safety instructions. One of the things that jumped out at me (even though I knew that before) is that when the oxygen masks become available, the parents (or adults) are advised to put the air mask on themselves first and only after that put the mask on the kids next to them.
At first, it seems an utterly selfish thing to do. Worrying more about oneself than the little ones next to them. Didn’t Jesus say, “Take care of the little ones?” But then it becomes obvious why this particular thing was put into the safety manual. Taking care of the kids first comes like an instinct to parents. However, in this particular case, they should take care of themselves first – because if not, they won’t be able to help their kids further down the road when they will need further assistance. If they help their kids first, they might themselves die in the process and the little ones will be left to tend for themselves – which they often cannot do.
Why do you look at the small piece of wood in your brother’s eye, and do not see the big piece of wood in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take that small piece of wood out of your eye,’ when there is a big piece of wood in your own eye? You who pretend to be someone you are not, first take the big piece of wood out of your own eye. Then you can see better to take the small piece of wood out of your brother’s eye.
Matthew 7:3-5, NLT
The simple truth of this passage and the analogy with oxygen masks is that unless we take care of ourselves first… we are not equipped good enough to help someone else.
If you bring someone to Christ, unless you know Him personally (as we all know it’s possible to know the “correct answers” yet not be a true Christian), you won’t be able to help that person further down the road when s/he has questions.
If you take time to grow spiritually, only then you would be able to help someone else understand what spiritual growth is.
Sometimes, we do have to take care of ourselves first – and it’s not a selfish thing to do.