It's hard being a Christian living in the United States. I mean don't get me wrong I love that we have the freedom to read our Bibles in public, arrange Christian outreaches, and tell others about Christ without the fear of imprisonment or death. But there is just SO MUCH STUFF! Stuff that distracts us from our true purpose in this world. Stuff that puffs up our heads and gives us warped ideas about self.
The other day during my devotions God gave me Philippians 2: 1-11. Many years ago my pastor titled these verses "The great emptying of self". Hence the reason for the title of this post. The title aptly fits these groups of verses so well.
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves" Philippians 2:3. This verse is the complete antithesis of the American dream and the American way of thinking. We are taught to get what we want and need for ourselves. We are taught that we are great and to forsake others for our own selfish purpose. But we aren't of the world are we? God tells us so. We often forget that though. We allow the American way of life and thinking to pollute that which God desires to stay pure: Us. Vainglory means excessive elation over one's own achievements, abilities etc., empty pomp or show. Essentially being way too happy over something you've done. Did you hold open the door for the old lady so you could brag later and hold your head high? Did you tithe so you could bring it up to God later? Did you give money to a friend in need only to hold it against them later? These acts by themselves are a great service to God, but when you add in the later acts it taints them and it would be better for you to not have done them at all.
"But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Philippians 2: 7 & 8. Can you imagine going from Heaven to Earth? Going from a place of perfection where there was no hunger, no thirst, no sin, no hot or cold, no sadness, no anger, and no pain? Can you imagine going from being one with God to being separated from Him? That's what Christ did. And He did it for us. He thought of YOU when He was on that cross. He thought of YOU as each nail was pounded into his flesh. He thought of YOU as He hungered and thirsted upon that cross. The wondrous thing was that He never once complained or questioned it, He just did it. Are we willing to take the form of a servant? Are we willing to forsake everything we know and care about for Christ? Well that is exactly what He is asking us to do. He wants all of us. Not just the part we offer on Sunday mornings or the 10 minute devotional we do in the mornings. Don't get me wrong Sundays and daily devotionals are great, but He wants more. He wants every hurt and burden, He wants to be the One we thank when things are great, He wants to be the One we thank when things are horrible, and He wants every single shadowy corner of our mind (I think that's a song line). He wants it all, but are we willing to give it? Are we willing to completely empty ourselves just like Christ did for us? Until we are willing and actually do it, He can't completely fill us with His Holy Spirit. He can't completely use us for the great plans He has in store for us. I for one desire to be completely filled by His Spirit and I so desire to be used for great things to further His kingdom. I hope you do too.