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Monday, August 21, 2006

A Study in Selflessness

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but 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.

-Philippians 2:3-8

- Esteem Others Better Than Yourself -

In Luke 10:38-42, we read the well-known story of Mary and Martha. Martha knew that Jesus deserved the best, so she worked hard to serve Him. While she served, her sister, Mary, sat at Jesus' feet, listening to His words. "[D]istracted with much serving," Martha wanted Mary to help her, rather than viewing this as an opportunity to serve her sister as well.
Sometimes I behave like Martha. I am willing and ready to serve someone who I consider above me; but, when it comes to a younger sibling, I feel that they should be serving me.
This attitude is wrong. "Let no one seek his own," says Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:24, "but each one the other's well-being."

- Taking the Form of a Bondservant -

Instead of doing as Martha did--complaining when others don't help--I need to do as Jesus did--look for ways to serve others. Chapter 13 of the gospel of John gives an account of Jesus doing a strange thing. After supper, He gets down and begins to wash His disciples' feet.
In my opinion, washing someone else's feet is gross. Especially if they've been outside barefoot. There are a few grosser tasks, but not many. It certainly isn't the job you'd expect a King to do.
"If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you" (John 13:14-15).
Considering who Jesus is, you'd think that all of these men would be down on their knees, serving Him, not the other way around.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:25-28).

- Obedient to the Point of Death -

Jesus didn't seek to please only Himself. He was truly selfless.
Matthew 26:39 tells of when Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, directly before His betrayal. 'He went a little father and He fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."'
Jesus was willing to sacrifice His very life--in a brutal form of death--in obedience to the Father.
In this act, He displayed His great love for us. Love "...does not seek its own..." (1 Corinthians 13:5). His love for my life was greater than His love for His own life. Right before Jesus said, "Great love has no one that this, than to lay down one's life for his friends," (which Jesus did) He said, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:13, 12). I too, need to put others before myself--loving them more than myself, and valuing them and their happiness more than my own.

"Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another" (Romans 12:10).

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Every Kingdom Work

"Every kingdom work, whether publicly performed or privately endeavoured, partakes of the kingdom's imperishable character. Every honest intention, every stumbling word of witness, every resistance of temptation, every motion of repentance, every gesture of concern, every routine engagement, every motion of worship, every struggle towards obedience, every mumbled prayer, everything, literally, which flows out of our faith-relationship with the Ever-Living One, will find its place in the ever-living heavenly order which will dawn at his coming."
-Bruce Milne quoted Heaven by Randy Alcorn