Friday, April 10, 2009

Putting off Selfishness / Putting on Servanthood

I've read the words in Philippians 2 probably hundreds of times. They've never made much sense, because I have always struggled with the question of what it really means to "consider others better than yourself."

I have seen a number of people take this to the extreme of being a "doormat". A doormat is NOT what scripture is calling us to in Philippians 2! I used to go to that extreme, myself, but not anymore. The "doormat" person lets everyone walk all over them. They surrender every desire, opinion, and every opportunity to speak up. They automatically defer to the other party, and never give thought to what they want or need themselves.

A few people I know have taken Philippians 2 with a grain of salt, and basically, decided that it means "consider others better than yourself when you'd like some extra "thank-you's" or pats on the back". This group has it all wrong, too.

I've been reading a wonderful book for the past few weeks, A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George. The past two or three chapters have been focused on my relationship with my husband, and how I can prioritize it so that Adam feels loved and valued, and so that our marriage remains the number one relationship in our lives next to our Savior. The thing I love about this book is that it's overflowing with amazing examples and specific ways to carry out the instruction the author gives. For example, instead of just saying "Prepare for His Arrival Home from Work", she goes on to list ideas a wife might use during that time: Set the table, so that he knows he can expect a wonderful meal soon, turn the TV off so that it is calm and quiet, think of the things in the house that are important to him and be sure they're accomplished, refresh your make-up, brush your hair, try not to be on the phone when he gets home, etc. Reading all of these things is helping me learn how to pay attention to Adam and know that by serving him in these ways, I am serving my God and giving Him the glory for my healthy, Christ-centered marriage!

So, back to Philippians 2... I realize now, that "considering others better than myself" doesn't mean making myself a doormat, nor does it mean putting any other person up on a giant pedestal. It mean putting Christ on a pedestal, keeping my eyes on Him, and serving others solely as a means to glorify His name and purpose! The verse now makes sense in context with the full chapter!

Philippians 2

Imitating Christ's Humility
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very naturea]">[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very natureb]">[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father...

I know it seems so basic and simple. I am called to be a servant to others because my Jesus, who was in very nature God, made Himself NOTHING. My attitude should be the same. When my identity is found in Jesus, there is no possible way that this could mean my getting walked all over and not looking out for myself. It means me recognizing my own desires, and seeking to place someone else's desires ahead of my own.

After struggling with this for years, I'm excited to finally have a glimpse into the truth that lies in these words.


Krista Sanders said...

Amen! May the Lord do it in me! Thanks for the reminder!

Tori said...

It has been a challenge, but I am definitely growing from it! God is so good to continually shape me into the wife He desires me to be!