Monday, August 16, 2010

Count Others MORE Significant Than Yourselves

Do you ever read the Bible and subconsciously put in your own "except" or "unless"that don't belong there? You know, so you will feel better about yourself, won't be as convicted, and walk away feeling like a pretty good person?

For instance, when I read "Do ALL things without grumbling or complaining" (Phil. 2:14), I like to add "except when you have every right to grumble and complain because you are unfairly treated, or because the weather is so uncomfortably hot."

or how about"Be anxious for NOTHING " ( Phil. 4:6a)....maybe I could add "unless your job or day is so stressful that you just can't help it."

Oooo, and then there is "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your Father and Mother" (Eph. 6:1-2).... I know when I was little, I liked to add "but only when they are reasonable and fair to you." (And I even have the best parents out there!)

And here is the biggy for that I have only recently realized I probably add my own words to more often than I would like to admit. "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." (Phil. 2:3-4)

It has become quite evident to me that I do NOT regard ALL others as more important than myself. Plain and simple. When I get angry because I feel hurt by others, or mistreated by a cashier, or taken for granted by my family, I don't regard those people as more important than myself. You know who is most important to me in those situations...ME! And when I am afraid to reach out to people at church that I don't know, and fail to seek for ways to serve others, and don't take the time to express my love to others, I am regarding myself as more important than others. And when I don't sacrifice my own wants for the desires and needs of others, and get upset with Linnea for making my day difficult, and don't stop to listen to what my husband has to say because I am in the middle of something, I am only thinking of myself. Me, myself, I........yuck yuck yuck!!

I have been praying the Lord would humble me lately, because this prideful, selfish woman has needed it, and let me tell you, He is doing a beautiful job of answering my prayer (I know He will continue to answer this prayer until the day I die, because I will ALWAYS need humbling). Being brought low is painful, but it is so beautiful to see the Lord work in my life. The Lord has thrown me a few situations lately that have shown me how helpless I am, how loveless I can be towards others, and how much I need Christ to work in me in order to truly esteem others as more important than myself. There are NO qualifying words in these verses....because Christ did not qualify who he was going to love...there was no good thing I could have done to earn His forgiveness and love, and there was no bad thing I could have done to disqualify me from it. He freely gave me salvation, and I didn't deserve an ounce of it!

Christ hung on the cross dying....and what did He say?...."Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing." (Lk. 23:34) He asked His Father to forgive the ones who were killing Him. Christ is our example to follow, for Christ, who is GOD, humbled himself to the the point of death on the cross, that we might have LIFE through HIM. He died for me! A sinner who spat in His face before He brought me to Himself.

So when HE asks me to regard others as more important than myself, I am to do so wholeheartedly with such great joy! All I have to do is look at the beautiful picture of how Christ loves me, in spite of my lack of love towards Him. His love towards me NEVER changes, no matter what I do! With my eyes fixed on the gospel and the RADICAL selfless love displayed there, I should be able to eagerly love ALL others and go out of my own way to serve and encourage ALL others in any way I can. It doesn't matter how I am treated in the grocery store, it doesn't matter if I get a "thank you", it doesn't matter if it takes time I "don't have", and it doesn't matter if makes me uncomfortable. What matters is that I be like Christ, taking my eyes off of myself that I might love and serve others....always.

"Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a mn, He humbled Himslef by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."