Simple and Difficult
1So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Saying you are a Christ-follower and living like one are two different things. If I identify with Christ then I must practice His patterns of living and that is not easy. Paul expounds on that thought as He addresses the Philippians about what the Christian life looks like and it can be summarized in a simple but difficult to achieve character trait: humility.
Humility is certainly not something we hold up as admirable in the world today. We are very similar to those living in the Roman world during the time of Paul.
Believers who are “like-minded” judge all things by the Word of God. …. First-century society placed little value on lowliness. In fact, it regarded lowliness as the equivalent of cowardice and equated pride and self-assertiveness with manhood. The non-Christian world today thinks in the same way. Books and classes offering assertiveness training and effective methods of exercising power and “looking out for number one” are tremendously popular and profitable. But the attitude of a heart changed by God’s grace is no longer “me first and everybody else after me, if at all.” Rather, it is an attitude that humbly and lovingly places the interests of others before one’s own.
Kuschel, H. J. (1986). Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (p. 40). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Pub. House.
Jesus humbled Himself to the point of shedding His own blood for us and with the exception of modern day martyrs we have not been called to that level of sacrifice for the faith. Instead, we have the difficult choice of living day to day as humbly as possible. When you see others as more than yourself (or at least equal to you!) your outlook on the world changes. Suddenly you are willing to serve where before you may have desired to be served. Every day I ask God to help me see others as He see them. That acts as an instant gut check for my attitudes. Jesus sees all people as someone He was willing to die for and love unconditionally. As I have not been called upon to die for anyone else (yet) I suppose that I can hold open a door, let someone else go first, do the dirty job, give up my comfort so another may have what they need. . . the list is endless. And more importantly the list doesn’t need to mean I actually die for another today. It just means I think of you first. Sounds easy – it’s not. It can only be achieved through the strength of God and so I ask for Him to provide that today too.