LIVE A CHRIST-CENTERED LIFE: BE HUMBLE LIKE CHRIST
There are so many challenges to being joyful this past week: WHO announced a COVID19 worldwide pandemic, an increasing number of cases in the country has necessitated even our church services to go online. Worldwide, we see people feeling anxious and fearful. Yet there is a bigger problem that affects all of us - like a virus, it is an invisible, inner problem that plagues us: PRIDE.
CS LEWIS said this about pride: “Pride . . . the one vice of which no man in the world is free, and of which hardly any people . . . ever imagine they are guilty themselves”.
Isn’t it true? Pride can be hidden deep within our hearts. However, we see it manifest in various ways. Why do people lie? Why do people get so angry? Why do people slander? Why do people get envious of others? If you trace all these to their source, you will discover that pride is at the root of it.
John Stott said that “pride is our greatest enemy, and humility our greatest friend’. In Proverbs 16:18 we are reminded that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” The antivirus for the COVID19 is still being developed, and until such a time when it is made available to us, we are in danger of being exposed to, and of catching this virus. The antidote to PRIDE is to LIVE A CHRIST-CENTERED LIFE: BE HUMBLE LIKE CHRIST, and until we apply this in our lives, we are bound to continue feeling the ill-effects of pride!
Paul addresses a specific relational conflict in Philippians 2, and we read further in Philippians 4:2-3 that Paul encouraged Euodia and Syntyche and the church in Philippi to help these women restore their relationship. Paul is basically saying: real joy comes from the Lord, and Paul is in the best position to say this because he was in prison in his old age and was not comfortable at all.
Now when Paul said, “make my joy complete”, he was not saying that his joy was lacking – he was saying that they can make his joy “even fuller” by their ONENESS in CHRIST. He is not after uniformity or conformity, but he wants them to have the same love, and be controlled by the same Spirit.
Paul’s solution to how to “make joy complete” was simple, but it is filled with so much theological truths that all believers must be able to live by and exhibit it in their lives. Verses 3-4 remind us to “do nothing out of selfishness or empty conceit”, and instead “with humility of mind” – a mindset that stands counter to thinking highly of the self – “regard one another as more important than yourselves”. It might seem that conflict or disunity is brought about by our differences. However, a deeper self-analysis will show that PRIDE is at the root of it all! Paul is telling the Philippians to approach daily living with humility and not by selfishness.
Galatians 2:20 directs us to a SAVING FAITH -- Paul “died” to his own self to have new life in Christ! The Christian life is not hard, it is impossible. We need the life of Christ in us. Verses 5- 7 show us that while Christ was in the form (Gk. morphe, meaning essence) of God, He was willing to surrender His rights to exercise divinity. Jesus did not stop being God, but He stopped using His privileges as God, suffered and died in our place to redeem us. Likewise, we are to think of others that way, to be willing to surrender our rights and serve for the greater benefit of others. Are we willing to do this amidst a difficult and “abnormal” situation like the current pandemic? Are we willing to forego hoarding so that there is something left for others with less resources to buy for their families? As Christians, we should be the first ones to give up our rights in order to serve others.
John 1:1-3 best defines who Jesus is. The Apostle John calls Jesus “the Word”, and in v14, John tells us that “He dwelt among men” (the hypostatic union of the divine nature and the human nature of Jesus). This same Jesus suffered and bled on that fateful day in Calvary, was put to shame, and eventually died a humiliating and excruciating death on the cross. Jesus did not have to do any of that but He gave up His life, the “only Way”, for our lives to be redeemed. Colossians 1:15-16 – all things were created by Him and for Him! In Philippians 2:8, the word “appearance” uses the Greek word “schema” (meaning shape). Jesus appeared as a man, an exterior form that did not take away His true essence of being God but enabled Him to humble Himself as a servant. In vv.9-11, we are given a model of humility in Christ, and shown how His humility was honored by God such that Jesus is and will be, exalted in heaven and on earth.
Peter in 1 Peter 5:5-6 reminds us that to be humble is to trust GOD. We entrust our interest to the LORD so that we can look out for the interests of others instead. It is an amazing privilege to entrust our all to GOD! Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus endured the pain and suffering on the cross “for the joy set before Him”, and His joy is our reunion with God. To cure the virus of pride, we need to maintain the joy we have with one another, transform our hearts in accordance to God, and become selfless to the point of being inconvenienced for the benefit of others. Instead of focusing on our fears or complaining about the disruptions to our comfort, let’s learn to pray for and encourage others. Be grateful, generous, and thankful no matter how challenging our times are. This is impossible and only doable if we have Jesus at the center of our lives.
When selfishness afflicts us, apply the antidote in Gal. 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Now, more than ever, let us live lives characterized by the humility of Jesus!
- Is it easy for you to be humble? What makes humility a difficult virtue to live out?
- Pride may as well be the root of many wrongdoings you are also guilty of. Identify your usual struggles and see if pride can be the root cause of it. Be accountable, share one of your “respectable sins”, something that might not be obvious but is rooted in pride.
- The best way to fight pride is to constantly think of others rather than yourself. Do you know of anyone who doesn’t know Jesus yet - maybe a workmate, classmate, or family member? What steps will you take this week to connect with that person and seek an opportunity to share the gospel to them
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