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Posts Tagged ‘philippians’

I didn’t get very far into reading this morning’s section of 1 John when a thought struck me.  Seemingly coming out of nowhere and hitting me upside the head, once it was there I couldn’t believe I had never thought of it before!

It would have been easy to overlook…

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Yeah, of course, I thought, Jesus died for us and sacrificed himself and we need to do the same.  Easy peasy (mostly because I seriously doubt I’ll ever have an opportunity to physically give up my life for someone else).

But it shouldn’t be that easy, another voice entered into my head.  Is merely thinking that you’d be willing to die for someone really what this is verse is saying?

Um… no?

I looked at the verse again and thought about it some more.  What does laying down one’s life mean?  Does it only refer to physical death?

Jesus physically laid down his life for us.  He took our sins and the punishment for those sins so that we could have a relationship with God.

But it didn’t start there.  Paul tells us in Philippians that Jesus “emptied himself.”  Long before Jesus actually died for our sins, he laid aside his heavenly home, the glory due him, his will (as he submitted to his Father)… Before the nails pierced his hands he arrived on earth as a baby, he walked with us and talked with us and experienced life with us.  He taught and healed and loved.

So maybe when the Bible speaks about us loving others by laying down our lives, it means more than just physically dying for someone else.  Maybe we, too, have to start earlier.

Maybe I need to lay down my wants and desires.

My time schedule and plans.

My selfishness.

Maybe laying down one’s life refers to much more than physical life.

Maybe it begins with simply putting others before ourselves.

Which is where Paul began in his letter to Philippians before he tells of Jesus’ example of both emptying himself and dying on the cross:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

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Read Philippians 2:12-13 this morning for devotions.  And in my reading of Invitation to a Journey (by M. Robert Mulholland, Jr) the other night he spoke of this text in light of spiritual disciplines.  And he mentioned a necessary tension there.  So I’ve been thinking…

continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

“Work out your salvation” – “It is God who works in you”

which is it?

our work?  or God’s work?

yes.

both.

we can’t not have the one…

… and God asks of us the other.

God’s grace – our obedience

God’s call – our response

God’s transformation – our disciplines

paradox.

tension.

good tension.

needed tension.

hence the “fear and trembling” part

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