Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.Philippians 2:1-2 (NASB)
When I first wrote this blog post, my beloved mom was dying. Back in 2008, I frequently wrote about her, what God was teaching me and how He used me to minister to my folks in those last months and days of her life.
That particular Christmas was so difficult. She was only weeks away from glory, and my focus was on making her last days as happy and comfortable as they could be. During the Christmas season, that is incredibly complicated. So much of our American Christmas is propped up around shopping and presents and crazy hoopla, and each year we collectively grumble and crab about all “we have to do” and all the money it costs to do it. I recall thinking about all that was yet to be done for our family Christmas celebration and realizing there was no way it was all going to happen that year. Also, I realized I really didn’t care.
Living through that time with my mom during the holiday season certainly adjusted my perspective on all the holiday stuff! Not one card was sent, not one cookie had been baked, and that tree that stood in my living room seemed very out of place.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.Philippians 2:3-4 (NASB)
Instead of focusing on all the trappings of the season, I really lived Christmas that year. It was a time of sacrifice of my personal needs and wants, my feelings and desires, and even to some extent, my time with my own little family to be with my mom and dad in those last excruciating weeks. Sacrifice is what Jesus exemplified in everyday life. His sacrifice began when He sacrificially left heaven and the Father to come to earth. It was a volunteer mission, you know. He intentionally humbled himself to become like you and me in taking on human form. His humility and sacrifice was the first demonstration of what is needed to be like Him. These two attributes are deeply intertwined.
To live sacrificially, a person must determine to empty themselves of themselves. They must decide that the one for whom they are sacrificing is worth the personal cost. In our case, Jesus did not make this sacrifice because we are so worthy; He did it because apart from Him, we are hopeless. But we make these sacrifices when we determine that the one we are serving is worth our time, effort, and energy.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.Philippians 2:5-7 (NASB)
We must also humble ourselves to undertake activities that are unpleasant and distasteful. For example, there is nothing glorious about cleaning commodes and wiping bottoms, and the willingness to do such things is but a taste of the humility of Christ.
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8Philippians 2:8 (NASB)
We attend church each week, but this is living church and living Christmas. I am confident that this time I am spending here is infinitely more important than shopping, baking cookies, or sending greeting cards. Serving my parents is not convenient nor always pleasant, but I know Jesus would have me to do.
The purpose is to glorify God in how I live my life. This is to be the goal of each of us as Christians. We are to live sacrificially, and humbly, and glorify God as we serve one another.