Friday, April 22, 2011

Philippians 2:3

"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves"

Do you view the needs of others above your own?  Obedience to the command to regard others as more important than ourselves places us further away from the norms and standards of the culture around us than perhaps any other the believer is given regarding his daily walk. The reality is that only those who are placing themselves at the center of their thoughts will receive encouragement and re-enforcement from the world around us.  If we are looking for the example of how one elevates the needs of others above himself we must shift our view from the world to the cross where Jesus "humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8).  Paul tells us that we are to "have this thinking in ourselves which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5) as the motivation for our thoughts and actions in our Christian walk. While we will never be able to duplicate what Christ did at the cross we are to imitate Him and this is what Paul commands us to do in Ephesians 5:1.  Leadership more than anything is about imitation of that which is principally correct.  We are to imitate Christ who gave up His life so that the very ones Who took it could have eternal life. Others need encouragement.  Not the encouragement according to the world's shallow standards of the building up of false self-esteem in another person but in ensuring that not only do others know the truth but can see how the Truth impacts the life of the person who is guided by it.  That person is you!  The purpose of our lives is not for our own benefit but for the benefit of others.  God works through us to not only speak the truth but live it and be an example for it. 

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul explains to the believers in Philippi why he is rejoicing despite being in prison and possibly facing execution: "Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear."(Philippians 1:12-14).  Paul's concern was not for himself but for the the guards who had received the Gospel and for other believers who had become emboldened to speak the Gospel because of his imprisonment.  The most important need that the unbeliever could possibly have is salvation and that requires him to hear the Gospel.  The most important need the believer could have is encouragement to run the race that God has set before him.  Paul has elevated the needs of both the believers and unbelievers in his periphery above his own needs.  Paul is imitating Christ by elevating the needs of others above his own.  We are to imitate Paul as he imitated Christ.

Be more mindful of others rather than yourself.  When something unpleasant happens to you rather than focus on your need to blow off steam by venting your frustration, or ensuring that you plead your case for the wrong that you have suffered, dwell on others who stand to gain by seeing you handle the situation in a manner that reflects your position in Jesus Christ.  This may lead to an opportunity for your to communicate the Gospel to someone or provide encouragement to a struggling believer.  Our comfort in times of trial and testing is in the Lord not in ourselves as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." This is how we are to regard others as more important than ourselves and therefore draw nearer to God.

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