Scripture reading Philippians 2:1-7
My attitude can be the difference between success and failure; happiness and despair; love and hate; compassion and callousness; unity and division; humility and pride; triumph and tragedy; victory and defeat. So what then defines a good attitude, one that can insure the former rather than the later of the above examples? Let’s take a few moments to dissect Philippians 2:1-7 to see what advice the Apostle Paul provides under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
1 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? The first question implies that life will have many disappointments, and we've all had our share of them. What we need to focus on during those times is the benefits we have from belonging to Christ. The Psalmist reminds us of just a few: Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s (Psalm 103:1-5). The fact that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ should result in great comfort no matter the circumstances of life. I should have an attitude of gratitude and contentment!
In the last several years, our travels have taken us all over the world and I can testify to the bond of love and the fellowship that is possible between believers. I am reminded of the time Bill and I spent in the home of a Russian pastor and his family, none of which spoke English. Our interpreter departed after dinner, leaving us to attempt communication on our own. I must admit, I was a little on the skeptical side! However, we had a Berlitz English/Russian Dictionary with which we frantically looked up word/phrase translations. I'm not sure how well we actually communicated with words that night, but we did enjoy our fellowship in the Holy Spirit and a bond that will last through eternity. It was one of the sweetest instances of camaraderie I have ever experienced; and I will always cherish the time we spent in their home! We have encountered brothers and sisters in Christ, all over the world and sensed the same bond instantaneously, even though we had never met. The Holy Spirit is able to remove the barriers and obstacles that stand in the way of authentic communion. We are family and truly do have all things in common. I should have an attitude of expectation, tenderness and compassion!
Now Paul begins to address our attitude in regards to our treatment of brothers and sisters in Christ. If we have hearts that are tender and compassionate towards Christians we have never met, how much more should we demonstrate the same conduct towards Christians we encounter regularly. Specifically, our church family, Christian co-workers and neighbors, as well as, family members. We should bear one another's burdens, as well as celebrate each other's victories, but do we? Unfortunately, we become complacent and take for granted the blessing of those relationships. Therefore, Paul charges us to check our attitude towards everyone!
2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
If you agree with someone wholeheartedly, there is no room for complaining or wavering from the agreement. The definition of wholehearted is: 1) completely and sincerely devoted, determined, or enthusiastic 2) marked by complete earnest commitment; free from all reserve or hesitation. I cannot be enthusiastically determined to live earnestly committed to complete and sincere agreement with my fellow Christ followers and insist on having it my way! We, as Christians, are supposed to live in harmony with one another . . . to be of one mind and one purpose . . . working together for the glory of God and the advancement of the Kingdom. I need to remind myself that I don't have all the answers, that I am not always right, that my way is not necessarily the best way. When I think of others more highly than myself and put their interests before my own, I am promoting unity, which is the essence of Christian love. I should have an attitude of love and self-sacrifice!
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Even though Jesus was God, He did not cling to His position of King of kings. Instead He willingly gave up His divine privileges and humbly accepted the position of a slave. In obedience to God's redemptive plan, Jesus died a criminal's death on the cross in payment for my sin. He gave His life, so that mine could be salvaged! Jesus said, "This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:12-14 I may never be asked to give my life for someone else, but am I willing to change my attitude for the good of my brothers and sisters, and more importantly, for my Jesus?
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Romans 12:9-10 (CEV)
In Alexis' devotion this morning, an example was given of preschool children going to the playground holding on to a rope to ensure their safety as they walked across the parking lot. As the toddlers moved from point "A" to point "B", the teacher could be sure none would be lost, as long as they held tightly to the rope. In our scripture today, we see that we are to hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. In order to remain safe as we travel through this evil world, we must hold tightly to God's Word. Now I’m not saying that we should go through our daily lives with the Bible tucked under our arm. What I mean is we must open it, read it, meditate on it and memorize it! “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:9-11 (NIV)
The subtlety the world uses to glamorize sin and convince us that certain types of lifestyles are acceptable can only be recognized and overcome by knowledge of the Truth! God’s Word is Truth. It is life’s instruction manual; a guide wire I can follow when I’m not sure which way to go; a safety net that catches me when I fall; a lifeline when this sinful world has sucked the life right out of me! The more I study and memorize scripture, the more I hate evil and am able to stand against it. I am so thankful that God has provided everything necessary for me to live a godly life – by His Word and His Holy Spirit I can live safely and victoriously!
“By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence. And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4
Founder and President of Go Ministries, Inc.
Co-Founder and Secretary/Treasurer of Go Ministries, Inc