Today’s reading: Philippians 2. This is a great chapter. Please take a minute to read it and see how Paul calls us to lay down our lives for others like Jesus did for us. Keep going friends! We’re reading the whole New Testament this year!
At the beginning of Philippians 2, Paul asks the church at Philippi to “complete his joy” by being unified as a family of faith. He goes on to tell them how to do this in verses 3-8:
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. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was 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.
– Philippians 2:3-8 ESV
Simply put: Whatever you think will give you joy will almost certainly let you down. Your ambition and conceit (pride) will tempt you to seek satisfaction in the wrong places. On the path, hunting for your “own interests” you will leave a wake of hurt as you step on those in your way. This will likely happen in three ways: (1) Using others and being angry when they don’t deliver. (2) A prideful response when corrected. (3) A fixation on getting even when you think you’ve been done wrong. Selfish ambition and conceit can turn us from servants of God to kingdom crushing wrecking balls. From those who would build up the body of Christ to those who, in thinking we are building it up, are tearing it down.
But wait, ambition is good right? A go getter attitude is a good thing…isn’t it? Absolutely! If directed by a healthy soul submitted to God. Paul doesn’t say, “Watch out for ambition, be lazy instead!” He says (my paraphrase), “Don’t channel your ambition towards self service, channel it towards serving others.” Now who do we know who did that? Oh yeah! The one who served us with salvation. Jesus!
Jesus had every right to step in, demand everyone serve him, and crush anyone who insulted or offended him. But we know that “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Pe 2:23–24)”
This is our King. The one who would find joy in giving of himself for his people. As we receive his grace and follow his footsteps, we too find the joy of giving of ourselves for the sake of others. How beautiful would it be if the church was a kingdom of people serving each other for the sake of the their kingdom? And how hellish will it be if it ever becomes a kingdom of people fighting their way to the top.
Who can you serve today in the strength and joy of Christ? Spend some time praying and asking the Lord to show you who to serve and how to serve them as you seek to obey his Word and live out the gospel.
(1) The Bible
(2) NO Miley Cyrus songs