20 Bible Verses About Putting Others First

Putting others first

All day, I waited for the call that the “package” had been delivered. As the hours ticked by, we learned it was taking a long time because it was making a cross-country journey from somewhere in New York to my mom’s hospital room in California. I pictured an unsung hero clutching an Igloo cooler on her lap while unsuspecting travelers knew nothing of its precious and life-saving contents. We were told this was my mom’s final hope of winning her losing battle with Leukemia–a bone marrow transplant. The precious cargo of new bone marrow arrived the next day and was hooked up to mom’s IV and dripped new life and new hope into her body. 

Who voluntarily goes to the hospital and has a long hollow needle inserted into their hip and extracts perfectly healthy bone marrow to give to a complete stranger? In our case, it was Darren, a 38-year-old man from Upstate New York, and God’s specific answer to our prayers, who did such a heroic thing. In a beautiful picture of Christlike sacrifice, Darren put the needs of a perfect stranger, my mom, ahead of his own and gave her (and us) the gift of new life.

Putting others first is not our default setting. We are selfish by birth and by nature, looking not to the interests of others but to ourselves. But God’s Word calls us to a different lifestyle–one that follows Christ’s example of putting the needs of others before our own. He is the ultimate example of self-emptying, self-sacrificial love. When we love others and put their needs first, we act like Christ. This is how the world will know we belong to him. (John 13:35).  

We need his help to live this out, and his help comes from his Word. Here are 20 verses about putting others first.

20 Bible Verses About Putting Others First

  1. Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)
    Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.

  2. Romans 12:10 (ESV)
    Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

  3. Galatians 5:13 (ESV)
    For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

  4. Matthew 23:11-12 (ESV)
    The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

  5. 1 Corinthians 10:24 (ESV)
    Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

  6. Matthew 20:25-27 (ESV)
    But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave.

  7. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (ESV)
    Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.

  8. Romans 15:1-2 (ESV)
    We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

  9. Ephesians 5:21 (ESV)
    Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

  10. Galatians 6:2 (ESV)
    Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

  11. Acts 20:35 (ESV)
    In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.

  12. Hebrews 13:16 (ESV)
    Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

  13. 1 Peter 4:10 (ESV)
    As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

  14. Galatians 5:13 (ESV)
    For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

  15. 1 John 3:16 (ESV)
    By this, we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

  16. 1 John 3:17-18 (ESV)
    But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

  17. Matthew 25:35-40 (ESV)
    For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

  18. Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)
    And 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 great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

  19. Hebrews 6:10 (ESV)
    For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.

  20. Mark 10:45 (ESV)
    For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Are you struggling to put others first? Join the club!

These commands are hard to follow and rub against our natural desires and the cultural messages of loving yourself above all. Paul sets the standard in Philippians 2:3-4. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Only Jesus did this perfectly, and we need his help to live out his commands.  

I thank God for the Darrens of the world, who selflessly give and make an eternal impact on other’s lives for the good. But I also thank him for the countless seen and unseen ways moms and dads, husbands and wives, friends and co-workers put others first and so glorify Christ. We need their examples to spur us on to love and good works, and we need your example, too. 

Let us love one another for love is from God,


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P.S. Mom has been cancer-free for 20 years now, and Darren and his family have become de facto family members. Praise the Lord!

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2 Responses

  1. Cara, this was beautiful and a reminder of Darren’s unselfish, life-giving gift.
    I’ve often seen the parallel with Christ’s gift of eternal life to those who see their need for a Savior.

  2. You bless my spirit more than you will ever know. You are terrific like your mother!!!
    I enjoy your writings. You open the Bible with more information and meaning.
    God Bless you and yours.

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