Lately, I’ve been asking myself two questions:
What would the church look like if we took the Bible seriously?
How would my life change if I took the Bible seriously?
Honestly, these two questions have really changed how I’m reading the Bible, especially what Jesus said. I’ve realized just how much my interpretation of the Bible or Jesus’s words have been influenced by my American citizenship. Believe it or not, I really do love being an American and I am so blessed to have been born in this country. I have been afforded many opportunities and blessings that people around the world only dream of. But it’s also not a perfect nation.
I believe that some of our cultural norms are directly opposed to the ways of Jesus.
There’s a passage in Philippians 2 that stopped me dead in my tracks while reading the other day. I have read through this book of the Bible dozens of times before so this is not a new passage of Scripture to me. But, because I have been asking these questions, the words just hit me differently. These are verses I have memorized in the past but haven’t actively applied to my life.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)
My goodness! Those first few words just floor me. Do nothing—there’s no wiggle room in that one, is there? No thoughts, words, beliefs, or actions should be done from selfish ambition or conceit. That’s a truly high bar to set for ourselves. And it doesn’t stop there—it gets harder!
We are called to take on the posture of a servant, just like Jesus did. We are to regard others as more important than ourselves. We are to care about their well-being above our own. I don’t know about you, but that just makes me want to walk away from the computer and do some deep breathing exercises.
The humble way of Jesus is in direct contrast with how I naturally like to live my life. If I’m being honest, I really don’t like having to serve someone else, especially if it costs me something. I am notoriously preoccupied with my own interests and not a fan of looking out for others, especially if I don’t benefit in some way.
Even though it goes against my natural inclinations, I am called to be a servant.
In a world that tells us to look out for our rights and wants, Jesus tells us to go a different way. Which, I believe is impossible in our own strength. But the next verse in this passage is particularly fascinating because Paul acknowledges our own humanity and our need for help.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 2:5 (ESV)
This is amazing! I can’t have the mind of a servant unless I am in Christ. If I am in him then I have access to this radical servanthood that Jesus calls us to. In his kindness, God doesn’t call us to something that he doesn’t also provide for. He not only gives us the example to follow, but empowers us to live our lives like Jesus lived.
Pride is the path of least resistance, but we are called to choose the narrow path of humble servanthood. It’s not glamorous and it’s really hard, but it’s how a Christian is supposed to live. I encourage you to take some time and read through the whole passage in Philippians 2 that describes Christ’s humility. Pray through it and ask God to search your heart. Use this text to meet with him and then take the next steps he invites you to.
I’m so grateful for Jesus’s perfect example and daily empowerment as we kill pride and choose his path instead. What a great God we serve!
What stands out to you in Philippians 2?
What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?
To go Deeper: Read Moving from Self-Preservation to Servanthood,
Characteristics of the Kingdom: Sacrificial
I want to live a Mission-Driven 2021, where I put Jesus’s words into practice. Join me in prayerful and strategic planning for caring for the least of these!
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I shared that verse with someone today. Selfless words that will change your life!
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It’s a mind-boggling verse! I’m in awe of Jesus’s selflessness and grateful that the Holy Spirit empowers us to die to ourselves.
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True, we actually need to realize that friendship with the world is hatred towards God.
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So true! I wonder how our lives would change if we took that verse in James more seriously!