Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.
Well it’s been a while. I have spent weeks wrestling over whether to post or not. How to write what I feel I need to say without shooting myself in the foot. God has clearly been speaking and teaching me, opening my eyes to His ways. These verses above have been critical. Particularly the line “Do nothing our of selfish ambition or vain conceit” – thus the wrestling.
Who am I to write on this platform? What is my motivation? I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t any slight desire to see one of these posts be read and shared in an unprecedented way. To become known for my wise words or my eloquence. In fact – there have been times where I have deliberately posted hoping for that outcome. That I would become known; that I would become an influence; that I would suddenly see my posts go viral. All the time I read posts written by relatively unknown people who somehow have managed to launch themselves onto social media and are gaining audiences and influence. I have wanted to be them.
Or perhaps, just simply, too be praised by my own world for my words. I get so much value from the praises of others. Don’t we all? At some point, we all crave to know we are doing a good job – more than that – a great job. We all have a need to be honoured at some level don’t we? Maybe that’s just me….
Here’s my conundrum – Kingdom living is (and needs to be) different. The day I decided to give my heart and my life to Jesus – to make Him Lord – I made the decision to direct ALL praise, ALL glory, ALL ambition, ALL dreams to Him. I chose to live a life following Jesus. I chose to use my gifts and talents; my strengths and my skills for Him, in the way He asks and directs. BUT, I am a human, and a creatively inclined one at that, that has tendencies and insecurities and needs that incline myself towards loving being praised. I love compliments, I love the idea that I am doing something right. I love nailing a song when I sing, knowing that people are hearing this.
I am still learning what it means to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit”. But I am determined to live a life that praises, honours and glorifies Jesus and directs other people to Him. I am trying to approach each situation, each opportunity, each moment with humility and wisdom. Aware of my motivations, my insecurities, my needs and making deliberate decisions to lay them down and seek Jesus.
You see – I believe that there isn’t anything wrong with giving honour and compliments where fitting. In fact, I am a firm believer that we need to honour those around us – to champion them and call out their strengths; to help them to see how they can best use their own gifts in the big picture if Kingdom Living. We can’t do this without giving honour and speaking praise. But we have a choice how we receive these things.
I can choose to pump myself up with all the glory and become arrogant, selfish and likely insufferable for others to be around – I’ve been there. I’ve made those choices. I don’t like that version of myself. My actual desire is to be gracious and thankful, while still directing it back to Jesus. That’s who I hope to be – who I’m trying to be. I mean, the truth is, that I only have the abilities to do anything I do well, because He gave them to me; and I only have the opportunities to do the things I do because He made the way for Me. I have no right to take the credit. It’s His to have.
The rest of this passage in Philippians 2 says this.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus is our ultimate example for how to live in humility. He did it perfectly. His whole life was an act of sacrifice and humility. He lived a perfect, sinless life and then chose to give it up so that all of humanity, in our sinfulness and brokenness, could be reconciled to our God in heaven. He gave up all His rights – both as God and as a man – so that we could live in the freedom His salvation brings, without the fear of the consequences our own sin deserves. He took that! He broke them! He defeated death, by being raised from the dead to life again – paving the way for us to live in that same victory. Jesus did that! How can I possibly take credit for anything when He has done it all!
I guess the question still stands though – who am I to write on this platform? What is my motivation?
Today – “The love of Christ compels” me….
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15.
I so desperately want to make His name known; to use any influence I may have to point people to Jesus. In our staff meeting yesterday, my Senior Pastor prayed the words “when people look at us, may they only see you!” (or something to that effect) That’s what I long for. That when people see me, speak to me, hear me sing or read what I write, that my name will shrink into insignificance and that Jesus will grow ever brighter! He’s really the only one worth looking at anyway!