An admirer once asked Leonard Bernstein, the world-famous orchestra conductor, what was the hardest instrument to play. He replied without hesitation.
“Second fiddle. I can always get plenty of first violinists, but to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm, or second French horn or second flute, now that’s a problem. And yet, if no one plays second, we have no harmony.”
If no one plays second, we have no harmony. No beauty. No symphonies. No glory.
One of Teddy Roosevelt’s children said of him, “Father always wanted to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral.” Yet, in most instances, following Christ means playing second fiddle. Our Lord Jesus said it this way: “And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Luke 13:30
Here, in Romans chapter 15, Paul emphasizes this point. Our walk in Christ, and our walk with each other, must be characterized by putting others before us.
Verse 1 – if we are strong, it is our obligation to bear with the weak (to carry their burdens).
Verse 2 – we should look to please our neighbor for his good, to build him up.
Verse 3 – for this is what Christ did, and this is what those who follow Christ do.
Verse 5 – live in harmony with one another (how can I blend in with you?).
Verse 7 – we should welcome one another as Christ welcomed us.
Verse 8 – Christ became a servant to the Gentiles (those outside the covenant).
Verses 18-19 – Paul’s words, actions, and supernatural gifts were not for himself, but for others.
Verses 26-27 – the Gentile believers in Macedonia gave sacrificially to the poor and famine-stricken Jewish believers in Jerusalem.
Verse 30 – Paul asks these believers to strive together with him in prayer
Just as Jesus did in his prayer in John 17, Paul links together unity and the glory of God and the spread of the knowledge of God to others. All of this emphasizes the fact that we are not for ourselves, and that the way to live the most blessed life is to live for others.
Faithful second fiddle players get the same reward as first fiddles players:
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:21