During our recent road trip vacation, my wife Judy and I were together 24/7 for ten straight days. Most of that time was spent in blissful harmony, but there were a few minor skirmishes. During one conflict about some relatively unimportant decision, she challenged me with this: “You’ve got to ask yourself, ‘WWJD?’” I was puzzled and responded, “What Would Jesus Do?” She said, “No, What Would Judy Do?” That cracked me up, and the argument was over.

In thinking about this later, I realized that our conversation reflected a principle emphasized by Jesus himself:

One of them, a lawyer, asked Jesus a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40)

Students of the Scripture have noticed that Jesus’ First Great Commandment points to our obligations to God, as summarized in the first tablet of the Law given to Moses, and the Second Great Commandment includes our obligations to others, as summarized in the second tablet. If in any decision in life I first ask “What Would Jesus Do?” (my obligation to God) and then ask “What Would Judy Do?” (my obligation to others), I’m likely to fulfill the whole of the Law and do the right thing.

A simple child’s chorus expresses this clearly. Here are the lyrics:

Jesus and Others and You,
What a wonderful way to spell JOY.
Jesus and Others and You,
In the life of each girl and each boy.
J is for Jesus, for He takes first place;
O is for Others you meet face to face;
Y is for You, and whatever you do,
Put yourself last and spell joy.

It’s hard for girls and boys to put this into practice; it’s even harder for grown up women and men. But in this dog-eat-dog world, could it be as simple as that? Can you snatch a moment of pure JOY by putting yourself last, instead of struggling to be on top? Give it a try.

– Pastor George Van Alstine