1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
In his book, Soul Keeping, John Ortberg writes:
“Our world has replaced the word soul with the word self, and they are not the same thing. The more we focus on ourselves, the more we neglect our souls.”
As this week draws to a close, I want to ponder and reflect on this surprising truth. When we focus on ourselves, we are actually working against our souls. At first glance, that seems incredibly counterintuitive. We are prone to think that caring for our souls requires a sharp focus on ourselves.
So what is the deeper truth at work here?
Remember back to our reading from Tuesday. We looked at Genesis 2 and the idea that we are more than just flesh and blood. Our life is more than the sum total of our earthly appetites and desires. We are fragile and frail earthly creatures but at the same time we have been given the incredible honor of receiving the breath of God. The first chapter of Genesis tells us that we have been created, “in the image of God,” which means that a reflection of what we know about God has actually been written into our own lives.
“For God so loved the world,” John 3:16 testifies, “that he gave…” Do you realize what that means? God’s greatest delight is in the act of giving and blessing God’s creation. And that is where we discover the deeper truth at work in Ortberg’s assertion that, “the more we focus on ourselves, the more we neglect our souls.
With all this in mind, read back through our passage today from Philippians. Think about what Paul is saying about the character of Christ and His way of life that we are in turn invited to emulate.
Today I want to encourage you to spend a few moments in prayer with an open heart for the needs of others that God might lay on your heart today. To do this, find a place without distraction and spend a few moments taking some deep breaths as you quiet your heart. As you would sense God laying a new or need on your heart today, simply lift that God saying something like, “God I lift to you (name or concern).” Don’t concern yourself with expounding on your perspective of the need. Simply imagine yourself as lifting these concerns to a God whose highest delight is in blessing, loving and giving to God’s children.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.