“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 purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:1-4)
How are we supposed to live? What are some of the key phrases that stand out?
- Be like-minded
- have the same love
- be one in spirit and purpose
Jesus Christ’s mandate to us, we have stated in our purpose statements, vision statements, and Core Values, are summed up in his “Great Commandment” and “Great Commission.”
- The Great Commandment: Love God and love others (Mark 12:30-31, Matthew 22:37-40)
- The Great Commission: Go and make disciples, baptize them, and teach them what Jesus has commanded (Matthew 28:19-20, John 20:21)
Stay focused on these things, be like-minded, be one in spirit and purpose. Be in love with this God of ours and his purposes.
- no selfish ambition
- no vain conceit
- consider others better than yourself-look to the interests of others
These phrases, when we are honest about ourselves, cut to the quick. The reason is that they are the very heart of human fallenness. We don’t want to be like this, but we far-too-easily slip into self-interest and self-aggrandizement at the expense of others. And this will inevitably lead to the disintegration of the Body of Christ.
But there is a better way! We must lay hold of the truth that we are to incarnate in our lives what Jesus incarnated in his life! He is our model, our example.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:5-11)
Here is the example of what our attitude should be like. This is my favorite "Christmas passage"—it explains in beautiful poetic words what Christ Jesus did on by becoming a human being.
Jesus, “being in very nature God,” that is, having always been God, “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” In other words, Jesus did not consider his glory as God, seated on his throne in heaven as something to selfishly seize for his own advantage. Rather, he “made himself nothing” by comparison, he took on the “nature of a servant,” he became one of us humans.
This is the ultimate example of humility. Here is God—GOD!—humbling himself to become one of us so that he could die for us on the cross!
Imagine that, like Jim Carrey in the movie Bruce Almighty, that you were God. You are omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient. All the universe was made by you and your pleasure. There is nobody higher, for everything and everyone else are merely creatures, created by you.
It’s hard to imagine that we would not begin to grasp at this, to seize it to our advantage. It’s hard to imagine that we would actually want empty ourselves of our divine rights for the sake of these creatures.
But that is exactly what God did.
And because God did this, we are now empowered to be more than our limited human selfishness tells us we must be. We are called now to live out what we are:
We are the body of Christ!
And as such, we humbly serve one another, looking after the interests of others.
As the church, we must break through and start living as the body of Christ! Share with each other your troubles and problems. What is pressing in your life? What is causing you stress? How can the people in your group help you carry your burden?
Listen carefully to what these verses are commanding us to do as the church, and, please, decide in your heart to follow the Lord in being humble in serving others.
“Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 NIV) “Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 NLT)
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