“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Are You Third?, by Randall D. Kittle
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When I was growing up, I loved football. And since I grew up in northern Illinois, I became a Chicago Bears fan at a young age. My favorite football player was number 40, Gale Sayers. He had been a three-time All American running back at the University of Kansas setting numerous school, conference, and NCAA records. The Bears drafted the “Kansas Comet” with the fourth pick in the 1965 NFL draft. When Gale Sayers had the football, he was absolutely electrifying to watch. Whether taking a handoff, catching a pass, or receiving a kick, Sayers could turn any play into a long gain or a touchdown. He reportedly told his teammates “Give me 18 inches of daylight. That’s all I need.” His ability to run in the open field is considered unmatched by any other player ever. Once, during a game against the Detroit Lions, his cutback caused future hall-of-fame cornerback Lem Barney to fall over, after which Sayers sprinted for a 63-yard gain. All-pro player and famed head coach Mike Ditka called him “the greatest football player I’ve ever seen. That’s right — the greatest.”

Unfortunately, knee injuries in his fourth and fifth season put Gale Sayers out of football. After Sayers retired, he wrote a popular book entitled
I am Third. Later, this book was the inspiration behind the award-winning movie Brian’s Song. In the introduction to this book, Sayers shares the story of where the title of the book came from. “My title, I am Third, symbolized my philosophy about life. When I was a sophomore at the University of Kansas, I had seen a sign on the desk of Bill Easton, who was my track coach, declaring ‘I AM THIRD.’ ‘What’s that all about?’ I asked Coach Easton. He told me what it meant — ‘The Lord is first, my friends are second, and I am third.’ When I went to the Bears, I had a medallion made bearing the words ‘I am third,’ and wore it around my neck through my pro career.”

Are You Third?
Gale Sayers’ medallion “I am third” could be called the Good Conduct Medal every Christian should strive to bear. It reflects the instruction the Lord gave us on how we are to conduct our lives. When Jesus was asked “What is the greatest commandment?” this is how He replied;
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). To walk in the ways of Christ, you must love God above all else … and then you must love and care about others. Only when you love God and others more than yourself are you living life in God’s order.

Unfortunately, the philosophy of our age is look out for “number one,” care about the people in your little clique, and don’t worry about what God has to say about anything. So, the question we need to ask ourselves is this: Are we going to be like rest of our society who are so quick to love themselves and just as fast to hate others, or are we going to live a life that reflects the Lord and show His compassion and kindness to others
and not just those who are like us?

Jesus has instructed us to
“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. … But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:31-36).

Are we willing to overcome the prophets of hate who call us to hate anyone who isn't like us so that we can love others as Christ has called us to? To do this we will have to be like John the Baptist who loved Jesus enough to declare of Him,
He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Once the Lord is increasing in your life, you will find J-O-Y as you choose to love Jesus … love Others … and then love Yourself!

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