Philippians 2: 1-4
Imitating Christ's Humility
"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and and purpose. (2:1-2) In knowing Christ, Paul lists four things that every Christian should experience from being in relationship with Jesus: 1. encouragement, 2. comfort from His love, 3. friendship with Holy Spirit, and 4. tenderness and compassion. It's true. I have experienced all four of the things Paul mentioned since I've known Jesus. Jesus is always encouraging me, comforting me, speaking to me and always, always tender and compassionate with me. Okay, so yes, Paul, I have received those amazing gifts from Jesus. Now what? Wait, what? "...be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose."??? Is he serious? Are Christians suppose to do that??!!! Yes, I'm being facetious, I'm sorry. But honestly, are we like-minded in the church? I don't even mean the church as a whole, I mean like-minded within our own personal church that we attend on Sunday. Let's see, in the churches I've attended I've heard critical words like, "There's no one here prettier than me." (And yes, that was said to me- I guess she thought I was uglier than her! lol!) I've been told, "You're too perfect." "Gosh, Ellen, why do you always dress your kids in matching outfits." (Not spoken as a question, but in a demeaning way). "How do you do it all? Just looking at you makes me tired." (Not so much as a question, but more like 'you're crazy.') When announcing, with joy, the pregnancy of my sixth child the response from one of my friends, in front of a group of people, was, "Don't you own a television?" Everyone laughed and thought it was soooo funny, but then no one congratulated us. So, there's that. I've been rejected and cast aside in the past churches I've attended, not by everyone in the church, but enough to make me feel unwanted and unloved. And I will admit that I am not a saint. I have been critical, and sarcastic too. So, let's go back to the four things we need to experience from Jesus so we can be: "...like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and and purpose." 1. encouraged, 2. comforted by his love, 3. friendship with Holy Spirit and 4. tenderness and compassion. Yes, Jesus you have done all that for me, help me to give it away to others. Help me to just love everyone and if I can't, help me to hold my tongue. Help me to be an encouragement, filled with tenderness and compassion, giving words directly from Holy Spirit. Help me to be sincere in my love. Forgive me for the times I have hurt others and help those I have hurt to forgive me now. I forgive those who have hurt me, rejected me and treated me like an outcast. I love them now with the love of the Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen.
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." (2:2) I can sum up this whole verse in one word- servant. Paul is calling us to be a servant to others.
A servant should not have: 1. selfish ambition, 2. vain conceit, or 3. looking to your own interests.
A servant should: 1. have humility, 2. value others above yourselves, and 3. look to the interests of others. It's one verse, but it sure spells it out for us.
It's interesting that as I read this verse, it shouts out to me, "be a servant!" On Friday night I went to a quaint little church where I had the honor of listening to my precious friends, the Joyner family, share their testimony of their recent trip to India. I heard how they served the people, even those who lived in the slums. It didn't matter to them what their rank was or how they dressed. They served everyone with the gladdest of heart and with a joy in knowing they were doing what God had called them to do. While I was there, their Indian interpreter spoke too. He shared that there are three types of servants: 1) The first and highest form of servant manages the affairs and money of their master. 2) The second and lower form of servant manages the house and the 3) the lowest servant is one who cleans the house, mops the floors, and washes the feet of those who enter the home of the master. He reminded us that Jesus washed the feet of the apostles. Jesus told them not only to serve others, but to allow yourself to be the lowest of the lowly servants. God is calling us not only to be a servant to all, but to be the lowest of lowly servants to all. "But in humility consider others better than yourselves." (2:3b)
Jesus, you have lavished me with encouragement, comfort, friendship with Holy Spirit, tenderness and compassion. Forgive me for the times I have been selfish in my love of others. Forgive me for putting up walls to people and rejecting them. Help me to do nothing out of selfish ambition, vain conceit or looking to my own interests. Help me to be your servant: humble, valuing others above myself and looking to the interests of others. If you, oh Lord, who sits on the throne in heaven, the KING of kings, can wash the feet of others, give me your heart of humility. I love you. In Jesus' Name. Amen.