A Cord of Three Strands

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2:1 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, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…

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I am so thankful that God designed us to need others.  Of course, only God can fulfill us, but He created in each of us the need to commune, relate to, and build trust with others.

Life can get very lonely when we don’t have people to truly share it with.  Growing up, I never had a shortage of friends, and into my teenage years, my friends became like my family.  They helped me get through some really tough times, celebrated important milestones, and gave me the acceptance and love we all crave during those awkward, formative years.  My husband and I met as teenagers and developed a deep friendship before we started dating, and today we still consider each other to be our best friend.  As we’ve gotten older, though, we’ve realized it’s harder to make friends.  Jobs, kids, schedules and responsibilities don’t make it easy to just “hang out” with your peers.  

What a direct and powerful instruction: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” 

Sounds nice, doesn’t it?  (Well… if you’re on the receiving end of someone else living like that!)  I don’t know about you, but. for me, there are some aspects of walking with Christ that take a lifetime to develop.  We live in a culture that celebrates the busy, the rushed, the cluttered, and individual achievements…and that leaves very little time and energy for “putting others first.” 

Have you ever noticed that we don’t have any verses in the Bible that say “what you need is to consider yourself more.”  It doesn’t take a lot to realize that selfishness and conceit come naturally.  You don’t have to teach anyone these things.  But, God’s standard is opposite of what comes naturally.

Philippians 2 goes on to describe how Jesus refused to keep a white-knuckled grip on His own comfort & glory and instead, took on the form of a servant for us.  That means God keeps His own standards; He isn’t calling us to a way of life that He isn’t willing to take on for Himself.

How can we follow His example?  Our behavior always starts in our hearts and minds.  Philippians 2:5 says that in-Christ, we’re given a new mind and I’ve always loved Proverbs 4:23 which reminds us to guard our hearts.  Christ-like behavior begins in the mind and heart.  Change comes in our minds and hearts, when we’ve entrusted them to Jesus.  Instead of selfish ambition, there’s humility (v3).  Instead of vain conceit, there’s service to others (vv3-4).  

I guess the question we all have to face is: “Am I really counting others as more significant than me and putting their interests before mine?”  If I’ve identified areas of struggle in this, I should commit them to God in prayer, asking Him to replace my selfishness with selflessness.


 

Lindsey and her husband Kevin, along with their three girls, have called Legacy home for nearly 5 years. They are thankful for the gift of friendship they have found in the people of Legacy Church.