Shackles of My Own Making

shacklesThe young adults Bible study at my church is studying Philippians. Growing up in a Christian home and then attending Bible college as well as seminary, it’s a book that I am well familiar with. Strange thing about the Bible, you can read the same passage a million times and something new can hit you every time. This is the very thing that happened last week as I prepared for the Tuesday night study.

In the first chapter of Philippians the word “gospel” is used five times. I believe that Paul is trying to lay the foundation for what we will mention later in chapter one and in the beginning of chapter two. Paul says, “…it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” and that we should, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” So how is this possible? I mean, neither humility nor suffering are not two things that human beings tend to excel at. The answer has already been provided, the gospel. In it, we already have everything we could ever need. There is no need to worry or think about ourselves excessively, because God has already supplied the proof that he will provided for everything we need (even before we’ve realized were in need).

The ugly truth is, when I am wrapped up in myself, I only become an expert in the things I don’t have, instead of the things I do. I become shackled  to my own desires, trying to satiate a never ending hunger for more……. just more. But when I know the gospel, the depth of God’s provision for me at the cost of his own son, I am free. I am free to put others before myself since God has my back and nothing can take that away. I am able to let go of my plans as well as the idols of this world because God’s given me everything in Christ. Through him there is encouragement, comfort in his love, participation in the Spirit and abundant affection and sympathy, all from a High Priest who understands our weakness and loves us, even in our most disgusting moments.

Diving into the deep end of the gospel enables me to let go of myself and love others, just as Christ has loved me. I don’t have to do it alone, God has given me all the tools needed through him and therefore that I can,

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8, ESV)

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