Well, that is what I should be thinking.
Instead, I’ve found myself struggling with grouchy, self-pitying attitudes. Just this morning I was complaining to myself, “I’m always doing stuff for everyone else, but when I ask them to do something for me, they don’t want to do it.” (Which isn’t 100% true – that’s just how it seemed to me at the time).
Anyway, as I grumbled to myself, feeling grumpy at my family and feeling grumpy at myself for being grumpy in the first place, the Spirit spoke up (turns out my secret complainings weren’t so secret after all).
He reminded me of a verse that I had heard in the recent week or so:
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Phil. 2:3 NKJV).
And all of a sudden, I saw how far from perfect I am.
You know, I’m the kind of person who (generally) loves to serve. That’s why I like being involved in ministry. That’s why I love my job so much. That’s why I help around the house so much.
But then I guess I expect the same to be done for me. When I ask someone to do a favor, and they don’t do it, I feel like it’s not fair, and I might even say straight out, “Look – I’m always doing these sorts of things for you, and now the one time I ask you to do it for me, you won’t?”
In those kinds of senses, I can be very much about equality. “There’s eighteen cookies, so everyone can have three each.” “I’ll scratch your back, you’ll scratch mine.”
And while equality may be good, it can be carried too far. And besides, anyone is capable of meting out equality.
But it takes something extra to do more than equality. It takes something extra to cause someone to put others’ needs before their own. And that something extra is genuine love, through God’s strength.
And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinner to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:34-36).
Returning to the Philippians verse, Paul goes on to write that we should serve others first – because that is what Jesus did.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! (Phil. 2: 5-8 NIV).
So this Christmas, let us remember the great sacrifices that our Lord and Savior made for us, and be inspired to cheerfully and willingly serve others around us – without expecting anything in return. (Although of course, that would be a nice bonus! 🙂 )
All This For You
One time on earth, God was in the flesh born
So that others, through Him, might be reborn.
The Almighty became a babe helpless
So that us, with Holy pow’r, He could bless.
Our King was under human authority
So we could reign with Him for eternity.
Our Creator had no place to lay His head
So that in Heaven others might live and tread.
The Master became a Servant of mankind
So that in service, joy and crowns we could find.
The Giver of life had to drink and eat
So we could hunger no more at His feet.
Our Healer would live a short while here
So we could learn to die to our self dear.
Our Savior would then give His life painfully
So we could experience life more fully.
The Lamb rose from the grave in victory
So that from fear of death we could be free.
The Teacher left us for His home above
So He could inside us live out His love.
The Lord Jesus sacrificed all this for you;
So now I ask: what for His sake will you do?
~Written at age 16