This Christmas season I have found myself drawn to an account of the humility of the one who “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8)
Though capable of speaking things into existence, healing the sick, and raising the dead, He wrapped himself in fragile human flesh, living among us so He could die the death we deserve for the sins we commit. How, then, should this truth be reflected in our behavior? Earlier in Philippians 2, we are given an idea.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (verses 3-4)
Selfish ambition and vain conceit not only threaten harmony and unity within the church, but misrepresent the character of Christ to those outside the church. Considering others better than yourselves, on the other hand, imitates Christ. To consider others better than yourself does not mean they are more talented, more worthy, or superior in any way. However, it does mean giving them honor or giving preference to them.
How am I doing in this? Do I give preference to others or do I act in selfish ambition and vain conceit?
- How do I respond to cashiers or wait staff when they’ve made a mistake?
- How do I treat fellow drivers on the road when I’m in a hurry to get somewhere?
- How do I interact with a slothful coworker who got an undeserved promotion and raise?
I confess the three examples above are scenarios I’ve pondered before. I intentionally work to respond humbly to them. There are some, though, with which I really struggle.
- When telemarketers call at inconvenient times my response is often curt and accusatory.
- When children misbehave egregiously in public I sometimes think judgmental thoughts about how they are being raised.
- When individuals in church leadership fall into sin I tend to mentally list the reasons why this same sin will not befall me or other clergy whom I admire.
So often I am motivated by self-interest. I am pausing this Christmas season to consider Christ and His humility. Christ came as a man (even washing the feet of the man who turned him over to be crucified!) and died so unworthy mankind could be reconciled to God.
Lord, help me look to the interests of others.