Read Philippians 2:1-11
Watch this video (taken from Message paraphrase) here.
You’ve probably been asked, “Are you in Christ?” If not that question, you’ve likely heard references to being “in Christ”. To put it simply, this means we belong to Christ, we are his. Chapter 2 starts out with this very phrase. Paul is asking us to think of the benefits we enjoy from belonging to Christ and being in him. There are many benefits, he has listed only a few. What are some of the benefits you have experienced?
Paul goes on to say, well then, okay, then show it! Have unity, not division. That’s not to say you have to agree on everything, but love each other and care for one another.
When that is hard for us, we need to look at our brothers and sisters and remember they, too, are abundantly loved by God. With that same heart, we will despise disunity. We will all bond together for the common goal – spread the gospel!
Paul gives us warning of what will mess up our attitudes — selfishness. Think on that for just a moment. It is human nature to be looking out for our own interests, right? If we don’t, who will? But selfishness goes beyond self-sufficiency and enters into a dark, sinful place of disregard for others. We should always be thinking how our words, our actions will be interpreted by others. Don’t let yourself get in the trap of projecting your own feelings and way of thinking on others. We are not the same. Being unselfish is difficult when done right.
Other translations have this as selfish ambition. Ambition is our desire to succeed, and we need to take care that our desires are in line with God’s will for us.
Our attitude check continues with humility. Are we humble? Or are we pumped up on our own self importance and pride? What are our motives when it comes to our actions? I love this quote from C.S. Lewis -“Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”
Finally, are we self-centered? Is it all about “me?” When we are little, it certainly is. As we grow and develop, we begin to see ourselves in a big world, and what is comfortable is when the focus is on us, and we are getting what we want. Think of a little toddler that you know. This kind of behavior works for a child, but as an adult, not so much. Martin Luther described fallen humanity as “man curved in on himself.” Malcom Muggeridge spoke of the “tiny dark dungeon of the ego.”
We are called to look to the interests of others and how we can use our gifts to help. That’s what Jesus modeled for us. He never avoided an opportunity to serve, heal, teach.
Today’s reading concludes with Paul painting a picture of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. This reminder should help us to fall in love with Jesus all over again. It truly puts in perspective the immensity of God’s love for us. Please join with me and other saints, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Let’s pray. Lord, help me get my attitude straightened out. Help me to be more in tune with the needs of others and how I might help them. Use me and my business to reach people that need a word from you. Wash away my fears and doubts that I am not good enough to deserve your love and provision. I stand on your promises and know that all my power comes from you. Help me to rely on that today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.