Last night we had friends over. One of them asked if we had heard the recent story of the marines coming home from the Middle East who were able to fly first class because some passengers willingly gave up their seats. You can read about the great story here: http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/class-passengers-give-seats-marines/story?id=20816817
The soldiers were on their way home after serving in Afghanistan. They needed to change planes at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Thanks to a USO volunteer in Chicago, they received a Hero’s Welcome, complete with policemen, firefighters and flag-waving. When they arrived at the airport gate, the airline was able to upgrade some of the soldiers to first class, but there weren’t enough open seats to upgrade them all. That’s when the passengers on board the flight stepped in. Those passengers already seated in first class readily gave up their seats to the boarding soldiers so the entire group could sit together. One article said the passengers “eagerly” moved to the back to make room for the marines.
The soldiers were deserving of the honor they received and the passengers in first class were happy to give them that honor. My guess is those passengers that sacrificed their seats for these soldiers felt as privileged to give them honor as the soldiers felt privileged for being honored. Both groups were blessed.
Ironically, this morning I was glancing through one of my favorite parenting books (Hints on Child Training, by H. Clay Trumbull), and my eyes fell on a passage I had underlined years ago when my children were younger. It read, When seats are lacking for new comers in a room or a streetcar (shows the age of this book!), and two or three children are seated together by themselves in absorbing chat, the temptation is to speak quickly to the little ones, telling them to vacate those seats for their elders in a tone that seems to indicate that a child has no rights in comparison with a grown person; instead of showing by the very manner of address that the children’s attention is called to their privilege of showing courtesy to their elders.
My first reaction after reading this was to think of all the times I had thoughtlessly ordered my children to the floor to make room for an entering adult, as though they “had no rights”. Lord, forgive me for treating them that way. But then I thought about the wisdom of what Trumbull was saying here. We need to teach our children (and ourselves) the joy of “getting low” not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it is a privilege for us to do so.
In sacrificing of ourselves we:
1. bring honor to others ( “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” Philippians 2:3, ESV),
2. we remind ourselves of God’s greatness and our smallness (“[Jesus] must increase, I must decrease.” John 3:30, ESV), and
3. we partake in Jesus’ example of humility (“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”John 13:3-5, ESV)
Encourage your children to give up their seat for their grandparent. Tell your sons to open the door for ladies. Encourage your daughters to help clean up the kitchen after their Thanksgiving meal in order to let the cooks rest. Don’t make the mistake I made which was to nag my children to do these things, but instead listen to the words of H. Clay Trumbull and happily explain the joyful benefits of service, and then lead by example. It is a gift to all involved when we walk in the sacrificial love of Jesus!