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Sunday, May 7, 2017
The Power of Less?
All too often, we are filled with ourselves. We rely too much on ourselves and not enough on Him. When we trust in our own job, strength, health, abilities, looks, bank account, etc., (at worst) we think we have no need of Him. Or at best we don't feel a total dependence on Him.
“He must become greater; I must become less.””
The power of less self in our lives. In order for Him to be greater in my life, I must become less.
Jesus was the ultimate selfless example:
Jesus left heaven to come to earth.
He stepped off the throne of the universe and into a weak, human body - susceptible to emotions, sickness, and physical constraints.
He died on a cross, so that we could live forever.
“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.”
“God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”
“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,”
Paul preached out of obedience. Others are preaching out of selfish ambition. Paul was thrown in prison - the others unfairly grow in popularity without hindrance. Why isn't Paul angry? Instead he rejoices! Why? Because he is focused on the goal: the spread of the Gospel. "What does it matter?" he says.
“...I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.”
Paul is at peace - he knows that what he is enduring is for the furthering of the Gospel. He would rather be with God (Jesus), but he is seeking God's, not his own
Selfless people can find joy in ALL circumstances. Don't lose sight of the fact that Paul is writing this chapter from prison! And he is there, accused unjustly. And while he is there, people who claimed to be his friends are seeking power and position in the early Christian church by slandering him. And God is not stopping them - they seem to be "getting away" with this. They aren't being thrown in prison like him. Paul has every right to be FURIOUS. Why isn't he? Because he is focused on God and His plan.
When we are focused on ourselves, we can only be happy when good things are happening to me. When we are focused on others, we are joyful when good things are happening to others. And there are way more "others" than there is "me."
It might not be going well all the time for me, but it is always going well for someone else.
We can find exponentially more joy in the lives of others and the will of God!
He must become greater, I must become less. He must become first, I must become 3rd.
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