How to sound Christian for fun and profit (Cassandra Millis)

“Not mine, but thine.” I remember using this phrase in one of the most nervous conditions of my life. I was interviewing at my dream college and desperately wanted to make not only a good impression, but a godly impression. (Seeing as it was an Evangelical Liberal Arts school. That advice might not work everywhere else.) When asked what book I had read most recently I quipped, “Is it nerdy to say Isaiah?” while more likely the last book I had read was something for school or one of the Harry Potter series for the umpteenth time. But the “Not mine, but thine” line I dropped was the most egregious painting of the perfect Christian potential student. It’s a colloquialism of Jesus on the night of his betrayal, saying that while he wants the cup (as in, the crucifixion) to pass from him, not his will be done, but rather the Father’s. I was trying to suggest that that was how I lived my life: not my will, but the Father’s.

You have to admit, it sounds good. I just know myself well enough that it has never been as true as I’ve wanted it to be. If God is in charge of all of history, every part of creation and its existence since the dawn of time, with a plan as to how it will all work out for the greatest good of creation, redeeming all that is fallen: I should want that will, right? Am I really so conceited to think my will might be better?


Not obviously when you lay the argument out like that, but in the day-to-day decisions, I had only my best interest at heart. That was certainly the case while I constructed an artificial halo for my interview. Perhaps there was a more deserving student out there that I trumped with my zealous rhetoric. (Certainly there were students with better math SAT scores.)

Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

For “not mine, but thine”: these are making a whole other jump. I’m not sure who came up with the expression (Google seems to suggest Gayle Sayers), but there is a popular Christian expression called “I am Third” that I think eloquently combines Jesus’ words at the mount of Olives and Paul’s in the above quotes.

God is first. He gained that right not by just creating us, but also by loving and pursuing us enough that Christ would die on a cross to save pitiable sinners. He’s the only entity that has consistently acted with the betterment of all humanity in mind.

Others are second. Did you just shrink back from your computer a little bit? This is a scary idea and very counter-intuitive. Why would anyone seek anyone else’s joy or wellness before their own? Well, because we’re supposed to count others as more significant than ourselves. We’re supposed to submit, give someone else their way, out of reverence for Christ.

You are third. You’re last. Not that it isn’t important to love yourself, and the next verse in Philippians will say to look to your own interests as well- but put God first, take care of others before yourself, and then maybe: “the last shall be first.” Or I could just be saying that too sound more holy.

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