Sunday, December 18, 2016
Read: Philippians 2:1-4
Focus: vss 3-4
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
I spend all my time in my own mind. It sounds obvious but I think like me all the time. I spend a lot of time thinking about me and how everything that happens in the world affects me. What’s worse is that I often think about how tired I am or how much I’d like to go off by myself and get some me-time in. Wow, I really spend a lot of time thinking about me! Most often I only think about others when they are interacting with me. And all this time spent thinking about only me leads me to actions that consistently put me first.
All this is a problem when God calls me to give myself away in service to others through good works. His design for me is way different from my design for me. This Christmas we’ve been talking about how God wants us to “Be the Gift.” He wants to give the gift of Jesus to the world and He wants to do it by giving us to the world. All this happens as we follow His will and holiness through serving others. This is the heart of God and He wants us to reach out to the world with His hands, to see the world through His eyes, to go to the world with His feet and to love the world with His heart. Last week we even discovered that God is the provider of seed to be sown so we need not worry about where the resources will come from to meet a need He has brought to our heart’s attention. This is the way God has chosen to work most in this world and we are blessed to be a part of it.
So, are you tired of thinking about yourself and your own needs first? The picture God gives us of his kingdom is different from how we usually live on this earth. There are exceptions to the rule but most of us have an ugly selfishness we see in ourselves that we would like to overcome. To be like-minded with Christ is to live a life above the selfishness we see in ourselves. We rise above it with his power and example.
Serving others is often made difficult by what’s inside of us rather than the circumstances of the service opportunity. We have to put our own wants and needs aside in order to care for the needs of another. If you’re like me, you often find yourself naturally resistant to the idea. Maybe it takes you outside your comfort zone or you would rather rest from a long day of work. Regardless of the reason you can come up with to avoid an opportunity to serve, I think you will find selfishness at its foundation.
Today’s scripture passage reminds us that God is working to change us from the inside out. The goal of this interaction is to become united with Christ and to become like-minded with him. Paul describes this further: it’s having “the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” It means an end to selfishness and conceit. It’s walking in humility. It’s caring about the people around you. It’s what I wish I was and I’m thankful God is working on it.
The way of Christ involves humility and an end to selfish ambition. Serving others is both a means and an end to this purpose. Blessing another person is one goal, but I, too, am blessed when performing the service as it provides me with an opportunity to be changed by God on the inside. By choosing to act as Christ would act, I establish his habits as my own. By choosing to think as Christ thinks, I become like-minded with him. So each day is a new opportunity to draw closer to Jesus by choosing his will over my own. I will choose his path this Christmas season and hope it changes me to be more like him. What path will you choose?