Recently, I celebrated my 50th birthday. Reaching this milestone made me think about my life and how I had evolved. It dawned on me that my outlook on life had changed dramatically over a short period of time. I didn’t notice it until I took the time to think about it. I realised that my perception and understanding of success is what changed. Having this new understanding of success changed the way I did a lot of things. It also changed the way I viewed other people. This got me thinking about the Biblical meaning of the 50th. I went to Leviticus 25 in my Bible and read it.
This is what it says in a nutshell (the Delfina version): “Make the 50th year special. Proclaim freedom all over the land to everyone who lives in it – a celebration! It’s a time for families to go back to their roots and to be reunited. The 50th year is your celebration year! Don’t oppress or illtreat each other – be for each other and not against each other. In this way you will honour the Lord, your God. Keep His ways and you will live in abundance and safety. You can be certain that the Lord will send such blessing in the 49th year that there will be more than enough to get you through the 50th year and beyond.”
It dawned on me that I chose all my friends and acquaintances, but I did not choose my family. God chose my family for me. Even the person I had married was chosen by me, but the family that came along with him were chosen by God. And if God chose my family, then it means they were well chosen. People make mistakes, but God doesn’t make mistakes. We have been given to our family to be a blessing to them, and that should be our motive in everything we do with and for them.
This got me thinking about the principle of putting family first. In Matthew 15 a Canaanite woman came to Jesus, asking Him to help her demon-possessed daughter. In verse 24 He told her that He had only come to help the people of Israel. But she persisted and He helped her because she believed that He would. This reveals that He was not limited to helping only His family, the people of Israel, although His priority was His family.
In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul spoke about the gospel of Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes – to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile (Romans 1:16). In Romans 2:10 he again spoke about glory, honour and peace being to every man who does what is good – to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile. Considering that Jesus was a Jew, this is the principle of family first.
You see, families are the foundation of society, not friends. The strength of a house is in its foundation, not its walls. We should not neglect our family foundation. If we build it strong by connecting with each other and nurturing our relationships, then when we go out into the world, we’ve got that strength behind us keeping us secure and grounded. The Bible is full of principles that we can apply to build that strong foundation.
Many of us have pursued success, which is mostly directed at growth towards self-gain. But there’s a higher calling for you and I. It’s significance – growth towards benefitting others. And where do we start? Family first, just like Jesus did it.
In Luke 14:16-23 Jesus told a parable of a man who had a great supper to which he invited many guests. But they all made excuses why they couldn’t come. Then he sent out invitations to people in the streets of the city. After that they still had room at the supper for more people, so he sent out his servants to the highways and fences (outside the city) to find people to invite.
If the guests were the family, the people in the streets were the friends and acquaintances, and the people outside the city were the strangers, then this is a template for us to follow.
Be significant! Make a difference in someone else’s life, starting with your family, then your friends and acquaintances, then strangers.
True, fulfilling success comes after significance.