We had a guest speaker at a church today (Ryan Hairston, Director of Forge Dallas), who delivered a fantastic sermon on all believers’ missionary responsibility. During part of his sermon Ryan spoke on Philippians chapter 2. This chapter is near and dear to my heart, and I am convinced has lead to my most significant area of personal growth over the last couple of years. My internal paraphrase of this passage is: “Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to; think of others as more important than yourself… Be like Jesus, who although he was equal with God and deserved worship and adoration, instead humbled himself and made himself a servant… Do all things without complaining or arguing.” Click here to read the actual quote.
I will admit, when I was younger I was pretty proud. I had it all together and praised myself for that, all the while looking down my nose at those who just didn’t have it figured out. (Don’t I sound sweet? Blech!) Oh, I didn’t treat people poorly; I was raised to be kind to others. But my heart certainly did not reflect the sentiment of this passage. Did I think of others as more important than myself? Nope! Did I humble myself to the point of servant-hood? No way! I instead threw a fit (usually internally) when I didn’t receive the praise I felt I deserved. Did I seek to do all things without complaining or arguing? *looks down & shakes head*
But God really dealt with me. Noooow I’m perfect! Hahaha, okay, no. I’m not. I still stumble, I still get grumpy when I should be praising God, and sometimes I still sigh when my hard work goes unnoticed. But, by the grace of God I now take this passage of Scripture very seriously. I read a quote this week that is quite applicable to how the Holy Spirit worked in my life to bring about internal change.
“The way you think determines the way you feel, and the way you feel determines the way you act. If you want to change how you act, you must begin by changing the way you think. Your thoughts are the autopilot of your life.” – Rick Warren
The Word of God is Truth. Period. Because the Word of God is Truth, my life needs to be molded by what the Word says, not the other way around. I can’t just read and dismiss certain parts. For example, the Bible says, “Do all things without complaining or arguing.” I have two ways of responding to that verse.
- That is clearly unreasonable. Everybody complains. I can’t do all things without complaining or arguing. So I’m going to dismiss this unreasonable admonition.
- The Word of God is perfect and true. If my life is not a good reflection of God’s Word, then I need to repent, seek God’s help, and change my attitude/behavior.
By the grace of God I chose the latter. I am guilty of complaining. I am guilty of thinking of myself above others. I am guilty of thinking I deserve praise or recognition for my hard work. But that is not okay. I REFUSE to excuse my sins simply because change is difficult. Going back to Rick Warren’s quote, once I made a mental change regarding how I approach difficult Bible verses like this, my attitude changed. Once I stopped excusing my sin and began calling it what it really is: SIN, the bondage it had over me released.
For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him…For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in light of the fact that He lives, He lives to God. So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires… But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness.For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.” Romans 6:6-14
As a child of God and a follower of Jesus, sin is not my master. So I will not allow it to rule over me or excuse it by calling it another name. If I am doing something that is not pleasing to God, that is sinful. God gives us the power to overcome sin, but we do have to actively resist temptation to avoid falling into the same old traps of sinful thinking.
Truly embracing the admonitions of Philippians chapter 2 has made an incredible impact on my spiritual growth. Here are some of the results of making this chapter a daily mantra:
- Increased love for my brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Every day I pray that the Lord will show me how to love my neighbor and love Him more. This verse helps make that so much more attainable. If I truly recognize others as better than myself, they become much easier to love!
- Increased love for those outside of the body of Christ.
- More peace.
- Increased generosity.
- Increased gratitude and optimism.
- Increased joy.
- An eagerness to serve, despite “what’s in it for me.”
- More restful existence. -> The more I strive for recognition and praise, the more I will be disappointed when I don’t receive it. The more I argue or complain, the more my life is full of turmoil. The more I remember that Jesus himself, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, made himself a servant, the less I feel I am entitled to anything, and the more ready I am to lay myself down for others.
I could go on and on with this list, but these are just the first few things that come to mind as I reflect on the impact of living out these Biblical principles.
I have had this passage paraphrased in my heart for awhile, repeating the meaning to myself all throughout my days as I am tempted to sin in these ways. But recently I have committed to memorizing this passage. So I wrote out this passage and stapled it to the wall in our master bathroom toilet room. 🙂 I figured if I can focus on memorizing for 30 seconds multiple times a day I will eventually have more memorized. It has worked quite well! My kids and husband are memorizing it too! When you’re sitting on the throne, there’s not much to do, so it has been an awesome positive way to spend that time every day! I have the first paragraph memorized, and I think the last two will actually be easier than the first. After this passage is memorized, you can bet I will be adding more Scriptures to our bathroom wall!
How about you? Do you struggle living out this passage? What do you do to overcome narcissistic thinking or complaining and arguing? Do you memorize Scripture? What methods work for you?