Most conflicts in the home, at church, or with friends center around someone not getting their needs met. And that someone is probably me. Or you. Why am I all testy with my husband? Because he didn't do something for me or the way I wanted him to do it. Why are my feathers all ruffled? Because that woman at church offended me with her comment.
Does this hit close to home?
Paul exhorts the Philippians (and we read about it in chapter 2) to give him, their shepherd, great joy by being unified and like-minded. I can only imagine how our pastors would be delighted by their flocks getting along. There'd be a dramatic decline of gossiping, criticism, back-biting in churches. I can see how Paul would be fulfilled in joy with this kind of unity! We know this would bless our pastors, but how do we make it happen? Snap your fingers and *poof* no more bitterness? Offenses wiped away?
First we know that the Holy Spirit is the only power-driver behind that kind of changed behavior. As hard as we try, as earnest as our efforts, we will never defeat our sin nature in our own strength. Some of us don't know that, or apply that knowledge, and we keep trying and trying in our own strength, but never see any progress. That futility can cause people to reject this Truth...but they had the power source wrong. Only the Holy Spirit can work a Christ-conforming change in us like that.
Others of us know about the Holy Spirit's work in us, but don't do anything about it. The pursuit of holiness is hijacked by our lack of action. We acknowledge our sin, we know only Christ can change us, but we just stay put and spin our wheels in the same ole same ole. Christ was victorious on the cross over sin and death...He is victorious over your sins. Trust Him!
The key in Paul's exhortation to the Philippians is we must esteem others as better than ourselves. Christ, being our source of power and strength, is also our example. We must have this same mind as Jesus, who
made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (vs. 7-8)
As we expect Jesus, both in the form of celebrating His birth at Christmas and in His miraculous second advent, may we have the mind of a servant. Jesus served so perfectly that He laid aside His very life. Can I even lay aside my flesh to get along with my husband or that co-worker or the people at church?
No one is going to exalt me and give me the name above all names. No one is going to bow at my name. I must stop living as though they will! When we demand our rights and expect royal treatment, this is how we're acting. Only Jesus Christ is the Name Above All Names and may we confess Him as Lord to the glory of God the Father. May we confess this through our words and through our actions.
As you prepare for Christmas, are you preparing for Christ? Unless I set aside myself, I cannot worship the One who is worthy. Will you do this with me?
Can you imagine the joy we would be giving others, our pastors, and our Good Shepherd, by being like-minded, having the same love and esteeming others as better than ourselves?
Let's serve one another as we serve the Lord and make His name highly exalted in all the earth.