Philippians 2:1-13 (NRSV)
Chapter 2If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, Verse 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Verse 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Verse 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Verse 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, Verse 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, Verse 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, Verse 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death- even death on a cross. Verse 9Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, Verse 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, Verse 11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Verse 12Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; Verse 13for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Ruthanne, a neighbor of ours, is always doing things for others in our community. But lately she has been dealing with illness that has required two surgeries. She expressed her dissatisfaction with this situation, declaring, “I just wish I could get through with all this, so I don’t have to be so focused on myself.”
Her statement reflects Paul’s words in our text. He points out that this is exactly what Jesus did: “he emptied himself.” Jesus acts in a way that lets us know that his actions stem from his nature; that is, what he does is not about concern for himself, but about us. And those actions, putting off his divine nature and living as a human being, obedient to the will of God the Father, even to death on the cross, are focused on you and me, not on Jesus.
Lord, help me to be less focused on myself, and more focused on you and my neighbor. Amen.