The Secret to Healthy Relationships

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying – Jesus first, others second, yourself last.

And of course, that acrostic, J for Jesus, O for others, and Y for you spells joy.

But what does the Bible say about this? Is it true? Actually, it is kind of true, but not exactly.

If you aim to live a life that pleases God, that brings true joy and satisfaction, and that genuinely provides rewards that last forever – then you DO need to put Jesus first in your life. But putting other people second is not necessarily accurate. You see, putting other people ahead of you in your priorities and choices is actually not a secondary thing to putting Jesus first.

It is THE WAY to put Jesus first.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matt. 22:37-39).

Phil 2:3-4 says a similar thing, but in a stronger way…

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

In a family, in a church, in a work environment, in a classroom … learn to value other people more highly than yourself. Let another person step in front of you in line. Let another person speak first. Let another person eat the last slice of pie. Let another person rest while you wash the dishes. Let another person take the open seat on the subway. Recommend another person for a raise or promotion ahead of you.

Now this certainly isn’t the popular way of going about things in the world at large. Society promotes self-promotion. Advertising your abilities, showcasing your talents, promoting your strengths, and showing how you are better than the other people around you – looking out for your own comfort and enjoyment before others – that is the common approach.

But that is not the biblical approach.

Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: But a faithful man who can find (Prov. 20:6)?

Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; A stranger, and not thine own lips (Prov. 27:2).

Let me share a memory from my own childhood that illustrates this point.

I liked to sit in the middle seat – I was the oldest, I had more responsibility and could keep an eye on my brother and sister there

My sister liked to sit in the middle seat – she was the only girl, and ladies first!

My brother liked to sit in the middle seat – he was the baby of the family, the shortest, and both my sister and brother and me could look after him

Who should sit in the middle seat? If you’re a girl, you vote for my sister. If you’re the oldest in your family, you vote for me. If you’re a younger sibling or the baby of your family, you vote for my brother! But the point is this – if you’re really honest – there’s no one right answer or more deserving person.

In life, we are too often convinced that we deserve certain things more than another person. But let God take care of all of that. Just take leadership by stepping to the back of the line. Put the interests of other people first.

I’ll tell you what. If one or both spouses in a marriage would take this one principle seriously to heart, it would transform your marriage. If one child in a family would take this principle seriously, it would transform the atmosphere in your home. If you will take this principle seriously, it can transform your dorm relationships, your work environment, and the perspective of people around you wherever you go.

And it will draw people to be more interested in Jesus.

So will you take the challenge today, and the next? Will you put the interests, promotion, and comfort of other people first, ahead of your own? If you will, you really and truly are putting Jesus first at the very same time.

Note: you can catch this same discussion in audio via podcast by clicking here.

A shout out to Israel Rosario. I received a comment from him at the blog,, saying that he is listening to the podcast during his commute to work. It’s always great to hear from our listeners. Feel free to leave a comment yourself at If you have any suggestions for future episode topics, I’d be thrilled to hear from you.

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