Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 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. Philippians 2:6-11
I don’t think scripture was intended to be embraced without question. It’s far too good and far too true to be read and not questioned. You see, it is in the questioning that insight is found.
The text above is one that causes me to question. At first I read this text and I am grateful that Jesus is so humble and selfless to serve me to the point of death. Then I realize he is asking me to do the same and I have some questions. Is the call of Jesus to become a doormat? Is this text beckoning us to be selfless to the point of being abused? That is what Jesus did isn’t it?
Verse 4 gives us the call. “let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” How does one do that? Is that even healthy if the interests of others are evil or broken? The following verses tell us the secret to following Jesus’ example in this. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.” Jesus’ obedience was not to his murderers, it was to his loving Father. Jesus knew that he was loved and that his Father also loved all those who might harm him. For Jesus, looking out for the interest of others does not mean doing what others want. It means doing what is in their best interest. Ultimately that meant dying to show his love for them.
As we navigate relationships we must learn to love as Jesus did. True love pursues what is best for others even if it difficult for oneself. True love also does what is best for others not always what others think is best. Discerning the difference requires a spiritual maturity that is connected to the heart of God.
It takes a tremendous trust in God’s intentions towards you to trust him with the potential pain of being used for others. Read Psalm 38:15-22 and reflect on the fact that God is always pursuing what is best for you. You no longer need to fight for your own interests because he is already doing it for you. If God is looking out for you, now you can be free to look out for others.
By Aaron Bjorklund