“Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort in love, any sharing in the Spirit, any sympathy, complete my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, being united, and agree with each other.  Don’t do anything for selfish purpose, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves.  Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. 

Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:  Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.  But he emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings.  When he found himself in the form of a human, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore, God highly honored him and gave him a name above all names, so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

Therefore, my loved ones, just as you always obey me, not just when I am present but now even more while I am away, carry out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes.  Do everything without grumbling and arguing so that you may be blameless and pure, innocent children of God surrounded by people who are crooked and corrupt.  Among these people you shine like stars in the word of life. 

This will allow me to say on the day of Christ that I haven’t run for nothing or worked for nothing.  But even if I am poured out like a drink offering upon  the altar of service for your faith, I am glad.  I’m glad with all of you.  You should be glad about this in the same way.  Be glad with me!”


SOAKING IT IN: Paul points to the life of Christ and Christ’s ability to take on the form of a human though equal to God. Through this, he encourages everyone in their lesser call to do as Christ did.  Christ does not “trump” any of his earthly situations or circumstances with his divinity, but follows closely to the call set before him by his father. 

This servanthood and self-denial set him apart in earthly form and brought joy and adoration to his father.  Keeping focus of the needs of others is our call in our daily walk.  We might not be able to solve all the world’s problems, but we may certainly be able to make a difference for one or two along our path.  It is not about going to the far corners of the earth as much as it is paying attention to those right in front of us.

The minute we feel we are being selective or unwilling for whatever the cause, our newest challenge has just been presented for us to address and see why the conflictedness.  Our command is to love one another, and we don’t mind that at all as long as the other is lovely, worthy of such attention and affection.  But when the other is dirty and needy and presumably the scum of the earth sinners (our unsolicited judgment – not God’s), we have a much more difficult time reaching out as Christ’s hands and feet. 

In the day of Jesus, people who were sick and outcast were that way (in the opinion of that day’s culture) because of their sinfulness. Jesus never interacted with the sick and disabled of his day with any self righteousness or superiority, but as God’s servant sent to bring wholeness and joy into an otherwise dismal existence. As followers of Christ, how can we ever allow any form of judgment to get in the way of God’s call on our lives to reach out and serve those in our life’s path.

Have we ever stopped for a moment in our tracks and wondered if we might be crossing paths with any particular person in any particular moment for such a “moment as this” (the words of Mordecai to Esther)? When we are able to conquer our fears and attitudes and drop our judgments, then Paul says that we “shine like the stars in the world”.¬† And I think that as wonderful as that alone might be, the confidence and peace and assurance that we also gain, the automatic personal rewards that are held and treasured within ourselves – those things mean so much also in our development and maturity as Christ’s own.¬†

Seeing the situation and circumstances of others as “There but the grace of God go I” lowers our defenses and makes the willingness to “treat others as we would want them to treat us” spring forth.  God sets the challenge. God encourages our actions.  God even sends His Spirit to do through us all that we might never have been able to do by ourselves.  Through Christ, we are empowered to be the change the world needs and it does begin from deep inside as we surrender our will to our Father’s will and release ourselves to the ministry of the Holy Spirit through us. 

Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul! Let us Shine like Stars!!!

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