"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in 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 of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility consider others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!"
And then there are verses 12 and 13:
"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, or it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."
Look at all of those words we have gone over in the last 18 days! When we take the focus off of ourselves:
- Leave me alone I'm busy
- Why doesn't anything ever go my way?
- Why can't you...?for me?
- I wish...
And consider others above us - that verse says to pay attention to the needs of others and not your own. This is totally contrary to the thinking of the world we live in today!
It's considered old-fashioned and archaic to submit to your husband. Many of my friends don't understand why I don't go out much. It's because I personally choose to maintain the commitment I made to my children when I became their mother: putting their needs before mine. For me, I did it the opposite with our oldest, and it didn't work so well. I put every need of mine before his. Now 23 years later, I have learned with child number five that I need to give mothering my all.
Some ask, what about time for you? They know that when I shut the door that they can only come and get me if the house is on fire! They are learning to respect my need for privacy.
Considering others above yourself is so much more than that though! If I took you to a different neighborhood and showed you the truly poor, and the ones who choose to remain in poverty, would you look at them and only see filth or would you look at them with eyes of compassion?
When someone walks in the door of your church in sweatpants and ratty hair do you approach them with love and ask to show them around? or do you quickly look away?
Paul asks his church family to make his joy complete by being like-minded. One mind, one Spirit, one faith.
Consider this: Jesus, humbled himself.
He took on the form of a totally helpless baby. He could have came to Earth in a blaze of Glory. He could have just taken over and destroyed all evil. But He chose to come and grow up and feel and serve and reach out and then die. Jesus, the Son of God, chose to die for you! Think about that for a second.
He asked His Father to take what He had to do away from Him because I believe He knew that His death would be meaningless to so many. Look at all of those who are still mocking Him today. He saw that coming. And yet, He picked up that Cross and carried it up that hill.
He hung and suffered tremendous physical pain and even worse mental anguish. Knowing full well that He was giving all of us a choice and some would reject His sacrifice.
His own mother at His feet. Some of His best friends witnessing His dying. And those who yelled, "If you are truly God's Son come down!" And then His own Father had to look away and the sky went dark because every.single.sin ever committed was laid upon Him. He, Thee One who knew no sin had, to carry that burden.
Take a deep breath and let it sink in. I know this is a lot.
Jesus loves you. It's the kind of love you can never imagine until you feel it for yourself. There is no shame with His love. There is nothing you have to do to earn it. He offered it up as a sacrifice when He chose to die for you! He considered you above His own self and human life.
Will you accept that love? Will you offer up praise? Can you feel that tug on your heart? That's Jesus waiting for you to ask Him in.
Once you become His, the words that Paul wrote in the above Scripture will make so much more sense. You will know why some choose to live in humility. To serve and not judge. To pursue those they used to consider lesser than themselves and raise those very same people up.
Continue to work out your salvation - but don't wait too long. God has your days all planned out. You can have peace right here, right now. Why don't you ask Him to come in?
I'm praying for YOU.