Off to Boot Camp – A Personal Letter

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Off to Boot Camp – A Personal Letter on the occasion of my nephew Clayton going to basic training with the Marines. This letter is to him and shared on the blog for anyone else who can benefit from it.

We, your family and friends, are so proud of you as you begin your new military career. It takes a brave and courageous person to volunteer to protect the people and the Constitution of the United States. As you begin this incredible journey, we want you to know that we support you and admire your willingness.

Sacrifice is a term that is often used either sparingly, because not many people are willing to do it, or carelessly, because what many consider sacrifice truly isn’t. However, thank you for your sacrifice! As you begin on the first day of boot camp, you choose to give up many personal freedoms in order to serve sacrificially for all of us.  We enjoy relative freedom every day while you choose to limit your freedom for the sake of military order and structure. We get to choose where and when we get up, what we eat, where we go, what we do, with whom we spend time, and when we go to bed.  Whereas, your sacrifice does not begin on a battlefield; but rather, it begins every day when you do not get to make those same personal choices.

There are a few key verses that I want to remind you of as you begin this new journey.

1 Corinthians 10:31

Whether therefore you eat or drink or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Although there will be times you feel like you have no choices, there is always a moment-by-moment choice you must make throughout your day.  That is, you must in every decision of your day decide whether or not you are going to use that moment and that decision for the glory of God. In other words, you have to decide, regardless if it is in your thoughts, your attitude, your motivation, your words, or your actions, will I honor God?  Does this response to my current circumstances point people to the worthiness of Jesus Christ? (Also consider 2 Corinthians 5:9)

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

The good news is this…God’s grace is yours every step of the way. God is for you and is faithful in every moment of pressure. Regardless of what pressure-filled circumstance you face (temptation), God provides you grace that is up to the challenge. There is enough grace to ensure that you do not have to sin. Grace guarantees that you can bear up through the pressure without sinning. How exciting to know that God limits the pressure and maximizes the grace so that in every circumstance this is true, which is why Paul calls these pressures “common to man.”

James 1:13-18

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

In those moments when you are tempted to sin, never forget the problem lies within you at the “desire” level. Quickly remind yourself that desire not dealt with biblically – which means you will want to repent, ask God for forgiveness, and recognize God’s grace to help you through the pressure – will bring sin, and sin ultimately brings destruction. You do not want to walk down that path. Ask God for wisdom to help you respond to the pressure-filled circumstance so that you grow and change in Christ (cf. James 1:2-5; Romans 8:28-29).

Psalm 119:63

I am a companion of all who fear You,
And of those who keep Your precepts.

The people you choose to hang around as friends matter. The psalmist – probably Daniel – had two standards for friendships. First, the friend had to fear God, which means to stand in awe of Him, trust Him, recognize He is in control, and respect Him. This is the first and most important standard as you begin to make friends. The second is similar and really flows out of the first…only make those people your friends who obey God’s commands. These two standards will provide you the kinds of friends like Daniel’s three friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

Proverbs 1:8-19

My son, hear the instruction of your father,

And do not forsake the law of your mother;

For they will be a graceful ornament on your head,

And chains about your neck.

10 My son, if sinners entice you,

Do not consent.
 . . . . . .
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them,

Keep your foot from their path;

16 For their feet run to evil,

And they make haste to shed blood.

Pay special attention so that you are not living for attention, acceptance, or favor from others. There will be those who desire to do what is unwise, foolish, and who lack a desire to honor God in everything. They will either have never learned or have soon forgotten what Solomon teaches. However, God’s way is to remember the Word of God and apply it diligently (cf. James 1:21-27). Do not walk with those who refuse to follow God and obey Him. Instead, recall what you have learned, pay attention to those around you and their path, and make decisions for yourself.

Daniel 1-6

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…

Daniel determined to honor God and not the king. He was willing with his friends to follow God over anyone or anything else. He and his three Hebrew friends were away from home, away from their place of worship, away from their other friends, and away from their family. Yet, they still chose to do what God desired more than what the king demanded. They wisely dealt with their superiors and with other peer pressure around them to choose God over everything else.

Joshua 1:7-9

7 “…Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

When Joshua had a hard people to lead, an incredibly difficult task to do, and big shoes to fill, God told him to be courageous. He challenged Him to stick with His Word without turning to the left hand or the right hand. Do what God commands and rest assured that God never leaves him or forsakes him. Just as God promised never to leave Joshua, so also Christ promises to never leave you or forsake you too (cf. Matthew 28:20). There is never a time or place when Christ is not with you.

Philippians 1:27-2:18

27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, …

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Finally, strive to live every moment with one thing in mind – live worthy of the Gospel. Live for Jesus. He is worth all your effort. As He is holy, you strive to lovingly be holy too. He provides you the strength to live for Him. Jesus is your example. In every moment, He considered what God wanted Him to do, and He lived for the honor of God, even to death on the cross. So as you go about every day, living moment-by-moment, live with one thing as your goal: living worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

There are so many more verses I could share. These are a good starting place. Remember them. Write them on the table of your heart. When you face pressure like you have never faced before, just know that God is for you, Jesus is with you, and the Holy Spirit provides you the strength to get through it. The Gospel is worth it. Your testimony matters to God, to the other Christians that observe you, and to those around you who need Jesus as their Savior as well.

We love you and are proud of you. You do not just go with our support; you go with our love. And most importantly, you go with Christ’s love.

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Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey

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Why is the Reformation Important for Daily Living?

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As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I have heard people ask, “Why is this important to us?” The five main doctrines around which the Reformers united stem from the very gospel that impacts daily living. In the midst of turmoil with the Roman Catholic Church, many Christians chose to die for the sake of the gospel rather than to accept the false teaching of Roman Catholicism. Five hundred years later, these same doctrines impact us as well.

Sola Gratia (by grace alone)

Grace alone is at the heart of the Christian life. It occupies a fundament position in the truth we confess and the lives we live in Christ. As Paul so soberly wrote, our world is corrupt and broken, under the influence of the devil who walks around seeking whom he may devour. Mankind is broken, living according to the lusts of the flesh (Eph 2:1-3). In spite of this, God demonstrated grace toward us, “…that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:7). God saves, sustains, and grows us by grace. As we live by grace, we must be committed to sharing it with others who need it. We cannot face the pressures, difficulties, and burdens of a broken world outside the grace of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we celebrate grace and seek to live by it daily in service to Christ and others despite our weaknesses and limitations.

Sola Fide (by faith alone)

The Catholic Church taught that faith, although essential, was not sufficient for salvation; salvation requires faith plus works. However, the Reformers boldly pronounced it was faith alone that saved. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:8-10). Salvation and daily living are contingent upon faith in Christ. As we face life’s daily challenges, we must constantly remind ourselves, the answer to life’s difficulties always begin with faith in Christ. The writer of Hebrews proclaimed, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6). Therefore, the answers to life’s problems must focus on faith in Christ alone.

Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone)

The conflict between the Reformers and the Catholic Church dealt with the authority in the Christian life. Rome taught that the authority for the Christian life was in Church’s tradition and teachings (known as the Magisterium), plus the Bible. The Reformers taught that the authority for daily Christian living was in Scripture alone. The Bible exclusively maintains the authority for the Christian’s all matters of faith and life. Where there are many sources of helpful information, only the Bible maintains authority. Regarding the Scriptures, Paul wrote, “All Scripture was given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17). Therefore, in all matters of living, the Scriptures maintain formal and functional authority.

Solus Christus (by Christ alone)

Jesus Christ is the person behind all the other solas. Salvation comes only by and through Jesus, as He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Paul wrote, “But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many” (Rom 5:15). Peter preached, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Christ alone is the mediator between God and man. He is the message we preach. He is the person we trust. Jesus is the center of the Christian life. Therefore, Jesus alone is the heart of daily living.

Soli Deo Gloria (glory to God alone)

Christians are to proclaim and live for God’s glory alone. God is glorious (Ps 138:4-6). Jesus manifested the glory of God among men (John 1:14). As Christians, we are to live our lives in bringing glory to God (1 Cor 10:31). God receives the glory for anything good, honorable, and notable that is done. All fruit of righteousness is produced through Jesus Christ for the glory of God (Phil 1:11). Our salvation and sanctification resound to the praise and glory of God alone (Eph 1:3-14). Therefore, we live daily in the power of Christ for God’s glory.

THIS IS AN ADAPTATION FROM MY POST THAT INITIALLY APPEARED IN THE OCTOBER 2017 TRIBUNE, “THE RIGHT ANGLE: BIBLICAL WISDOM FOR A CONTEMPORARY WORLD.

Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey

© 2017 PASTORKEVINSBLOG.COM

Book Review: Counseling Under the Cross

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Counseling Under the Cross: How Martin Luther Applied the Gospel to Daily Life
Bob Kellemen
New Growth Press 2017

This month the world celebrates the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation when Luther pinned his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. As part of your celebration, you will want to take time to read Counseling Under the Cross: How Martin Luther Applied the Gospel to Daily Life by Bob Kellemen. Bob tells the story of Luther in a fresh way. As you travel with Bob through the life and writings of Martin Luther, you will be challenged, encouraged, emotionally engaged, and provoked. Along the journey, Bob observes Luther’s ministry and helps you see how you can also serve those in and around your life as well.

Book Summary

The book contains two sections: the first section relates to Luther’s personal life story, and the second section follows his ministry to others. In section one (chapters one and two), Kellemen shares the life and story of Martin Luther. Chapter one tells of the constant terror and spiritual trials of Luther early in life. In chapter two, Kellemen describes the dramatic change salvation and the cross of Christ made in Luther’s life and ministry. He focuses on justification (forgiveness in Christ) and reconciliation (acceptance by the Father).

In section two, Kellemen uses a historical focus of pastoral care and spiritual direction to evaluate Luther’s life and ministry. He helps focus the story of Luther’s work in four primary content areas as they relate to suffering and sin: comfort for suffering – sustaining and healing, confrontation for sinning – reconciling and guiding. He uses this four-part model, alongside Luther’s own writing, to challenge Christians to consider how to both live and minister the Gospel too.

Kellemen’s Voice

Kellemen approaches Luther’s story as his friend, admirer, and student. On the opening page you learn of Bob’s indebtedness to Luther. He writes, “I ADMIT it. This is an unusual title for an introduction: ‘Martin Luther Reformed My Life and Ministry.’” He continues, “More than a play on words, this is an honest confession. Martin Luther reformed my Christian life and my counseling ministry.”

As you read further, you read the observations of a pastor-counselor who has been blessed by Luther’s work as a theologian-reformer and pastor-counselor. Because of this, Kellemen’s voice is both warm and compassionate as he evaluates Luther and his works. The result…Luther’s story is personal, touching, and challenging.

“Counseling Through the Lens of the Cross”

Chapter three is my favorite chapter in section two as Kellemen sets the stage for the rest of the book. In this chapter, he tells the story of Luther’s mom as her son ministered to her on her death bed as evidenced in a published personal letter from him to her dated May 20, 1532. Martin’s letter to his dear mother introduces key elements of Kellemen’s counseling model, through which he observes Luther’s works.

Luther’s heart of gospel-saturated compassion shines through the lines of this personal letter. Concerned Martin sent a prayer for his mother to rehearse whenever she was discouraged in her sickness. In response to John 16:33, Luther encouraged his mom to pray this prayer against Satan, sin, and death. He writes,

I shall cling to him, and to his words and comfort, I shall hold fast; regardless of whether I remain or go yonder, I shall live by this word, for he does not lie to me. You would like to deceive me with your terrors, and with your lying thought you would like to tear me away from such a victory and savior. But they are lies, as surely as it is true that he has overcome you and commanded us to be comforted.[1]

Kellemen continues, “Luther exhorted his mother toward confidence in Christ alone and in Scripture alone: ‘By such words and thoughts, and by none other, let your heart be moved, dear Mother.’”[2]

Recommendation: Read It

As you begin to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, you should consider reading this book to learn more of Martin Luther’s life, struggles, victory in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and his ministry of the Word. As you read excerpts of Luther’s over 2,500 extant letters, Table Talks, and other writings, you will grow in appreciation for his view of the centrality of Christ and the Scriptures. Furthermore, Luther demonstrates how a pastor’s concern for proper theology flows out of a compassionate desire to help people with their suffering and sin. In the process, may all of us who read Counseling Under the Cross be challenged to make Christ the center of our life and ministry.

[1] Kellemen, p. 43

[2] Ibid.

Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey

© 2017 PASTORKEVINSBLOG.COM

 

To Stand or To Kneel? The Great Divide and How This Affects You

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Have you chosen yet? Are you with those who stand or those who kneel?

Whether or not you have personally chosen, most of your friends have taken a side.

And here’s the problem: as we take sides, the great divide in America gets larger and larger.

Regardless of which side you are on, there are two problems. First, you stand or kneel out of your passion. Second, your passion miscommunicates with the other side who are either standing or kneeling. The result – the great divide just gets greater and deeper.

  1. The Background: During the 2016 football season, Colin Kaepernick, who played for the San Fransisco 49ers, began sitting then kneeling during the national anthem. He stated, “”I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder. … I have to stand up for people that are oppressed.” On the heels of several nationally debated police shootings of black people with the civil unrest that ensued, he decided to show support and solidarity for black people as those who experience injustice. Kaepernick is biracial.
  2. The Meaning: For Kaepernick and those who kneel with him, the purpose of kneeling is to peacefully protest the plight of black people in America. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, thousands of Americans are afraid of the police, the justice system, and their neighbors. Parents worry about whether or not their children will be racially profiled, harassed, or even shot by the police. Just as you, the blog reader, have an experience of America, so does everyone else – including black people in communities all over America. Their experience of America in regard to opportunities for education and advancement, personal safety and welfare, and community stories of abuse become the filter through which they see the flag, sense pride for the country, and feel the injustice.
  3. The Purpose: The goal of the protest is to get a conversation started across America on issues of injustice, especially as it relates to race. Those players in the NFL who decide to kneel during the national anthem desire to get the attention of the American people. They respect the freedom they have and choose to kneel with one another in solidarity during the anthem to highlight what they perceive is a real problem in America, as Alejandro Villanueva of the Pittsburg Steelers explained in his news conference on Monday.
  4. The Problem: Where the NFL players desire to highlight an issue in order to start a discussion, many Americans perceive their kneeling as disrespectful to America and the veterans who have made their protest possible. They miss the entire purpose of the protest. Instead, what they see is a bunch of spoiled millionaires choosing to disrespect their country, their flag, and their freedom by kneeling during the national anthem. The symbolism of the protest (kneeling) is lost to them because of their personal offense regarding the flag.
  5. The Challenge: How do you help each of the sides listen to the other? There are two sides: one group publicly declaring their solidarity against abuse and another side proudly defending their flag. Here is where the challenge lies. Both groups then assume the wrong motive for the other. Consider the perception of both groups related to the “other” side: if you kneel, then you must not love America or appreciate your freedom; and if you stand, then you must be a racist. At this point, both groups are offended and the conversation is over. For instance: If your standing makes me feel like you do not care about racial injustice, then why would I want to dialog with a racist? You are just part of the problem. Your offense to my kneeling is proof-positive that you have the problem. However… If your kneeling makes me perceive you are a traitor to the American veteran, have no respect for the flag, nor any appreciation for your freedom, then I have determined you are not worthy of a conversation. Instead, I want you to get up and shut up. At this point, there is no conversation.
  6. The NFL: The NFL is an entertainment business. As such, they have determined to allow their employees, the players, to protest peacefully on the sidelines or in the locker room during the national anthem. For this reason, many have determined they will protest this business decision by boycotting all things NFL. As a business, the NFL has every right to stand with the players, their employees, and speak against all forms of real and perceived injustice. As a business, they also will have to live with those who may misunderstand their decision and choose to walk away from their business.
  7. The President: Unfortunately, the President of the United States Donald Trump determined to give his opinion regarding NFL players kneeling. Rather than speak with wisdom, he chose to curse and throw gas rather than light on the problem. His attitude and words were sinful. In this instance, he is wrong. He should be working toward a national solution to these real and perceived injustices rather than fanning the flames of division.
  8. The Christian: As Christians, we appreciate both concerns. We hate injustice, racism, and sin. Anywhere and everywhere there is prejudice or partiality, it is wrong (James 2:1-13). In Christ, we do not see people according to the color of their skin (Colossians 3:11). In Christ, we love and care for people as Christ (Ephesians 4:28-5:2). We also are grateful for the blessings God gives to us, especially our freedom through government (Romans 13:1-7). Freedom provides us the opportunity to share the Gospel openly and worship as we choose. We are grateful for the sacrifice of those who have provided this freedom and have lived sacrificially, even giving their own lives. So we identify with both groups. We loudly proclaim we hate injustice as God does. We also loudly proclaim we see our freedom and the sacrifices made to provide for it as great blessings and grace from God. To back away from either stance would be sinful on our part.
  9. The Solution: We must then embrace both sides. We cannot afford to wrap ourselves so tightly in respect of the flag that we miss what others are trying to help us see. We cannot be so American that we forget to be Christian. We cannot support racism of any type. We must encourage brothers and sisters in Christ to engage each other, neighbors, and, in many instances, strangers in positive ways that encourage conversation and dialogue. We must be examples of those who live without seeing the color of people’s skin. We must assume the best motive for the person with whom we engage. At the same time, we also need to demonstrate our appreciation of and respect for the freedom we have to protest in America. Our gratitude toward our country must be great, as our country is God’s blessing to us. We furthermore need to be grateful for the peaceful protest and stand against non-peaceful protest. We must be Christ and live Christ first. We must live worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as those who understand true freedom in Christ, true racial equality, true love, and true compassion. We must empathize with any and all people who suffer misfortune, injustice, and inequality.
  10. The Hope: May God grant us help as we seek to move forward as Christians and as a nation. I’m not sure what will be enough for the players to stop kneeling. The end game is not apparent. I wish there was a better medium to discuss this than to wrap it in the flag or a game – both of which hinders the real conversation. Reality is – that’s not the case. The chosen medium by the players cannot distract us from the greater conversation that is necessary in society. We must address issues of injustice. As a nation there are many ways we can do this, and I certainly do not pretend to have the magic combination. However, the national solution is not the most important one. The best solution begins with you. You begin to see people with charity. Choose to find ways to demonstrate the love of Christ to those around you and in your community who need it. Be careful what you say and assume on social media. Be slow to be offended and quick to forgive. Assume patriotism from a fellow citizen and seek to listen to what they are saying. Try not to unnecessarily poke your neighbor in the eye. Get to know your neighbor better. Take advantage of this opportunity to think, love, speak, and act like Christ.

The great divide will only get greater unless Christians are willing to lead through words and deeds to change it.

Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey

© 2017 PASTORKEVINSBLOG.COM

The Challenge: Selfishness or Selflessness

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What will it be today? Will you choose selfishness or selflessness?

No doubt this is one of the most challenging aspects of following Christ.

Why is it so hard to choose selflessness rather than selfishness? Why is it so difficult to begin a day committed to serving a particular person, showing kindness in a particular way, or putting another person first?

Consider this scenario. You have prepared for a special outing with your family – a trip to the zoo, a long-awaited-for vacation, a local field trip, you get the idea. You wake up with anticipation of children who will enjoy the planned activity.  In your mind there’s joy ahead – happy children, grateful children, satisfied children, cooperating children. Yet as you begin to wake the children, it begins. One of them does not like the breakfast choice you’ve made, one doesn’t like his or her outfit you’ve chosen, or another fusses because younger sibling has turned the room light on too quickly. As these things begin to build, before you hit the front door, you regret wanting to ever do anything for or with your children, much less spend money, time, and energy on them.

Ever been here or at least close to here?

Why? What makes living for Jesus Christ and others so much harder than selfish living?

Inherently you probably know this answer. Even though we love others and have a deep desire for them to enjoy life, enjoy grace, and enjoy the best God has to offer, when it requires selflessness, it becomes incredibly difficult. Each of us in our own ways wish serving others was easy.

Maybe this sounds like your logic.
“I’m happy to serve someone, if they just show appreciation.”
“If she would only say thank you, this would be easy.”
“If they would just get along, I would be happy to take them.”
“Why does it seem that no matter how hard I try and sacrifice for them, they still ruin it by fighting, fussing, and complaining?”

In light of this, how can we win the battle of selflessness over selfishness?

Look to Jesus.

He is our example. As Paul in Philippians challenges us to “let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4), he points us to Christ. “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.”

How does Jesus exemplify for us what selflessness looks like in life?

As God, Jesus chose to not hold on to His exalted status of deity in heaven but instead became a servant, came as a man, and laid aside the divine prerogatives of being God (Phil 2:6-7). Instead of demanding all the glories of heaven, He chose earth. Instead of all the benefits of His position as God, He chose servanthood. Instead of basking in the praise and honor of the heavenly hosts, He chose the ire of the Pharisees.  None of this because we deserved His love or sacrifice. In fact, this was contraconditional – the exact opposite of what we deserved. Grace. Mercy. Selfless.

As man, Jesus lived for God’s will to be done. In humility, He submitted to God and His plan. In obedience, He chose to die as a sacrifice for sin. Not just death though, the worst death possible in His day, death on the cross (Phil 2:8). Incredible.

What does that mean for your day? How do you handle the battle between selfishness and selflessness?

Let me suggest three ways you can begin to win the battle of selflessness over selfishness.

First, keep your focus on Jesus Christ. Meditate on the cross today. Consider what Jesus did for you then, what He does for you now, and ultimately what He will do for you in the future. Recognize the significance of the cross for you in light of eternity. Reflect on the power, significance, and weight of the choices Jesus made as the God-man to come to earth. Worship Him for the love He demonstrated in His selflessness – even though we deserved nothing good, earned nothing good, and, even now, often live for ourselves instead of Him.

Second, pray for the selflessness of Jesus Christ. Use some of these prayer requests as your own.  This is just a sample list. Use these to get you started on your own.

  • “Lord, please grant me greater appreciation today for Jesus’ sacrificial work on the cross.”
  • “Please give me the courage to live for you when everything in me desires to live for myself today.”
  • “Please let me see the benefit of living selfless like Jesus rather than for myself.”
  • “Lord, grant me the humility today to live in light of the cross rather than for my own will, my own desires, my own comfort, or my own way.”
  • “Lord, help me notice the places today where I choose selfishness over selflessness. Please grant me the wisdom to repent quickly. Then help me to change my attitude, my words, or my behavior to reflect the beauty of selflessness over selfishness.”
  • “God, please lay the weight and comfort of Jesus’ choices to come, to serve, to obey, to die, and to live for You on me today. Help me be motivated by the great love and care of my sacrificial Savior today.”

Third, do at least one more thing today than yesterday to help you become more selfless rather than selfish. Call a friend to check on them. In a line, let someone in front of you. Invite someone to help hold you accountable. Send a text of encouraging words to a friend. Share something. Offer to help someone. Pray for the concerns of someone else. Hold a door open for someone. Smile. Then smile again. Wave at a neighbor. Just intentionally begin somewhere.

Join the Conversation

Add your voice to this conversation. What are other prayer requests could you pray to help you become less selfish and more selfless? What else could you do to become more selfless today rather than selfish?

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