Philippians 2:1-11 has become a passage of scripture I am constantly reading. For me, it’s a twofold concept. The first part I have been struggling to live out and the second part, in light of the first, just astounds me every time I read it.
“So, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and one mind. 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 2:1-4)
The first part has been difficult for me lately. Counting others more significant than me, looking to the interests of others, is all great in theory but when the rubber hits the road I want to put on the brakes and park the car. With my human nature, I am selfish innately. I “do good” up until a certain point and then I say “nope, I need more from YOU now.” I start to make a list in my head of all the sacrificial, selfless things I have done and feel pretty good about it. Like, yes, go Ione! You are so selfless! But then, I already lost. I already let flesh win, and the enemy for that matter. It’s been so hard to not compare my list of selfless acts to the lack of selfless acts done by others. I start to think they aren’t doing enough, they don’t appreciate or care about me, and it begins an ugly cycle. I’m at this point now where I so badly want to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,” and “in humility count others more significant than myself” but am trapped to do what I do not wish to do. It is definitely a Romans 7 situation.
And then, I continue reading.
“Have this in mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he as in the form of God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so 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)
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was the greatest example of humility, selflessness, sacrificial love, unconditional love, etc… and it floors me. When I put my relationships with other’s here on earth up against my relationship with God, whoa. It’s definitely a new thing for me. God CAN always put others first, no problem. He willingly sacrificed the greatest gift of all time, his own Son, just to show me that He will always love me, always put me first. He lives to serve, bless, and comfort me. He wants nothing more than my whole heart and will do anything to get that.
I’ve been reading through “Peculiar Glory” by John Piper and I came across this passage today that brought tears to my eyes.
“…we admire Christ for his transcendence, but even more because the transcendence of his greatness is mixed with submission to God. We marvel at him because his uncompromising justice is tempered with mercy. His majesty is sweetened by meekness. In his equality with God he has a deep reverence for God. Though he is worthy of all good, he was patient to suffer evil. His sovereign dominion over the world was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission. He baffled the proud scribes with his wisdom but was simple enough to be loved by children. He could still the storm with a word but would not strike the Samaritans with lightning or take himself down from the cross.” (John Piper, 224)
It is truly remarkable. It is an amazing and wonderful juxtaposition, isn’t it? Two very seemingly opposite characteristics can be lived out in complete harmony through God in man. Oh, how my heart aches to be just like him. I am so limited while he is so limitless. I find myself trapped simply by my own emotions while He…He can just always love no matter what happens. He never reaches a limit with me. He never runs out of motivation or energy. He never expects of me to do anything for Him, but just to be. It calms my heart just typing this out.
My continual prayer of “Lord, give me your eyes and give me your heart” will be lifelong. I so desperately wish I could already be at a point where no matter what others did, I could joyfully love them anyway. Philippians 2 is my scripture for this season. It is overwhelming to try to fight my flesh on my own, but as I read through this passage I am reminded that I have the perfect example to look to, and a guide book. When I stick with those two resources, anything is possible.
PS: yes, the photo seemingly has nothing to do with this post but…it is through my relationship with Jer that God has challenged and tested my faith in this way. So that’s why there’s a photo of him. 🙂