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17 August 2009

End of the Arrogance

From today's study at InterVarsity Press come these two questions:

  1. Who might you be tempted to impress during the next few days?
  2. What act of humble service could you do for this person instead?
They're based on Philippians 2, which over the years has become one of my favorite passages. It cleanly and simply summarizes what the life of the believer is to look like.

As you read the words of these verses, imagine that you are a member of the early church at Philippi. The Gospels have not yet been written; your fellowship has been formed based on the apostles' teachings. Paul tells some characteristics of Jesus here; that He was God, yet He became a servant. And he says that we're to imitate Jesus in that way (the sevant part, not the God part). I've emphasized several phrases that stick out to me.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.

- Philippians 2:1-18, NLT

Again, the two questions:
  1. Who might you be tempted to impress during the next few days?
  2. What act of humble service could you do for this person instead?

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