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The most perfect example we have of #humility is found in Jesus.

Philippians 2:5 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus….”

To what “mind” is Paul referring in this verse? He answered that question in verse 2, “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” In other words, Paul’s goal is unity in the church, which he said in verses 3 and 4 is accomplished in selfless humility. Now Paul is giving us the supreme example by which we can attain this Christian unity—Jesus Christ. Understand that we cannot emulate Christ’s deity. We cannot copy His incarnation. We cannot perform His miracles or live His perfection. However, we can pattern our lives after His humility. Indeed He is our supreme example and model for this life, most especially in His humble service of others. After washing His disciples’ feet in the upper room, Jesus said, “Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13:12b-15) In the next few verses, Paul is going to explain exactly why we must look to the example given us by the King of kings as we live together in His name while on this earth, an example ensconced in perfect humility.

Study/Meditation: In your opinion, how important is unity among believers? Why does Paul stress it so heavily?

*Father, help me to be humble in both my attitude and my actions toward others. Thank You, Jesus, for giving me the perfect example of how to do this. Amen.

The Golden Rule is not just for Sunday school. #humility

Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.”

Why is it that when the person in front of me at the checkout line has five more items than she should and writes a check when the sign clearly says “Cash Only,” it’s because she is inconsiderate, but when I do it, it’s because I am in a hurry? Or why is it that when my spouse is late, it’s because he hasn’t managed his time appropriately, but when I’m late, it’s because I have a lot on my mind? The truth is that we only see things from our perspective and will then react from that single perspective unless we purpose ourselves to do otherwise. Paul is reminding us that we must condition ourselves to take others not only into consideration, but also to consider others first. Of course, this does not mean that we take on a sort of “door mat” mentality, where we consider only the needs of others. Even Jesus took time away from the crowd when He needed it (Mark 1:35-39). It is fully appropriate to consider our own needs. However, Paul is reminding us that our needs cannot be the only needs to which we look, nor should our perspective be the only one we see. In other words, a Christian’s view on life should be dictated by something that most of us learned as children in Sunday school: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” (Matthew 7:12) It seems simple, but it takes concerted effort. However, it is an effort that is born of the fruit of the Holy Spirit who gives us all we need in order to achieve it.

Study/Meditation: Why do you think it is so important to consider others even as you consider yourself?

*Father, help me to see the needs of those around me and to react appropriately to those needs. Amen.

The secret to #joy and #contentment is #humility.

Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

If asked about the key to success, most people in the world would answer that it is found in self-fulfillment, self-satisfaction, or self-gratification. Of course, these premises would most likely be guised in other more acceptable and less self-centered words, but the essence would be the same. The truth is that it is human nature—“human,” not “pagan,” so this includes Christians—to seek happiness and contentment in life through means that ultimately elevate self, which is a direct result of pride and not humility. Non-Christian philosopher Allan Bloom saw this when he wrote, “Everyone loves himself most but wants others to love him more than they love themselves.” (Bloom, “The Closing of the American Mind, 1987, p. 118) Paul was warning the Philippian church that the only avenue by which they might attain true unity and joy is by humbly placing others first. A.B. Bruce wrote, “The whole aim of Satanic policy is to get self-interest recognized as the chief end of man.” (Bruce, “The Training of the Twelve,” 1897, p. 180) When we realize that our chief end is to “glorify God and fully enjoy Him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism), then we are freed from the bondage of self and thereby capable of moving toward the one and only thing that will bring true joy. Our lives are not about what we can get out of them or how we can be uplifted by them. Our lives, as children of the Most High, must be about demonstrating the magnificence of our Father and in so doing finding joy that is both eternal and complete.

Study/Meditation: What does it mean in your life to place others first?

*Father, help me to see the areas in my life where I need to grow in humility. Amen.

Why must #Christians seek to be harmonious with one another?

Philippians 2:1-2 “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 of one mind.”

One certain and abiding truth in life is this: Where there is more than one person gathered, there will be, even if only on occasion, disharmony. Humanity in its fallen state has a propensity toward self-centered behavior. After all, we can really only naturally see any situation from our own perspective. It takes effort and a full desire to deny this perspective in order to see from someone else’s vantage point. Consequently, we rely on the abilities of Christ and the Holy Spirit in us to do so. The Philippian church was a wonderful church and very dear to Paul’s heart. However, they were dealing with some internal issues (4:2), which is understandable given that like all churches, it was “one body which has many members.” (Romans 12:4) This church began with a sophisticated wealthy businesswoman, a Roman military soldier, and a young slave girl who had been into the occult. There was bound to be some friction! Paul was reminding them, as he is us, to look to what we have received in Christ—mercy, love, grace, and forgiveness—along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to live in unity and harmony with our brothers and sisters. Yes, it is difficult and sometimes painful, but the end result is a body that lovingly and purposefully demonstrates the glory of its Maker to a world that must see Him through them.

Study/Meditation: With whom in the body of believers do you struggle to live in harmony? In what ways will you seek do so?

*Father, thank You for making me a member of Your body. Help me to live in harmony with them, forgiving and showing mercy as You have done for me. Amen.

#Christians can expect and should not be #afraid of opposition.

Philippians 1:28 “…and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.”

It’s amazing that sometimes Christians are surprised when people don’t like them. However, the truth is that our service and devotion to our Savior and King will cause us to have enemies in this world. In many, many circles, religion and spirituality are perfectly acceptable topics, but the minute the name of Jesus enters the conversation, all bets are off! Paul used a word that we translate as “frightened.” It was used to describe a startled horse. Paul is basically saying the same thing he said in 1 Peter 4:12, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” In other words, we shouldn’t be frightened or surprised when people in the world don’t like us, even to the extent that they become our enemies. The very idea of Jesus Christ stands boldly against all that is natural in fallen man. His place as King of kings and the only means by which man might be saved negates all pretenses that man can either make or find his own god. As a matter of fact, Paul assures us that when man opposes the Christ, “It is a sure sign of their destruction,” while it is also a sure sign of our salvation. We shouldn’t be surprised at opposition because we expect it, and we shouldn’t be frightened because we know that in Christ we have been promised eternity.

Study/Meditation: Read what Paul wrote in his beautiful Triumph Song, Romans 8:31-39. How does this passage encourage you not to be either afraid of those who may stand against you in the name of Jesus?

*Father, thank You for giving me assurance in Jesus. Help me to stand against those who are enemies of the cross with this assurance without fear. Amen.

How can #competition be destructive between #Christians?

Philippians 1:27b “(Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ), so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”

As humans, we are often prone to competition and individualism. These are certainly not bad traits, but they can be destructive, especially to unity within the church. When we don’t see the value and necessity of “standing firm” and “striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,” then we become one weak strand along with many other weak strands—easily broken and destroyed by the world and its deceptions. Together, however, we are woven into a strong chord, one that cannot be easily broken or frayed. Paul was concerned that the Philippian church be able to stand against the persecutions and trials they were enduring and no doubt would continue to endure. When he used the word “striving,” he was using the Greek word “sunathleo” from which we get our word “athletics.” The picture is of an athletic team, working and striving together toward one common goal. That goal for the church is the “faith of the gospel.” The human characteristic of competition when applied to the church sets us against members of our own body, whether those members are worshipping with us in the same building on Sunday morning or in another gospel-centered gathering across town. Once again, when the center is Christ, then all need for goals focused on anything else fall by the wayside in favor of the advancement of His gospel.

Study/Meditation: Read what Paul wrote to the Roman church in Romans 12:3-8. How does this passage relate to the truths Paul wrote in Philippians 1:27?

*Father, thank You for my local church and for the fellowship of believers I have. Help me to see all the ways in which I can strive together with them for the advancement of the gospel. Amen.