Read His Words Before Ours!
I’ve been working out my salvation for years now. (Philippians 2:12)
I have been a follower of Jesus since the fourth grade. I received salvation in that moment and have been slowly transformed by the Holy Spirit for decades since. Praise God for His slow, steady work, even when I am stubborn-headed!
Throughout my journey, I have continuously struggled with legalism. I erroneously believed salvation was by faith, through grace, but held by my good works. In reality, we see over and over in Scripture that salvation is by faith through grace, held by the Holy Spirit as a deposit for our eternal reward. (Ephesians 1:13-14) Unpacking this reality has been transformative in my life.
In Scripture, we see humility is required in this proper understanding of salvation and our good works. (Philippians 2:1-3) Nothing I’m doing is obliging God to love me any more than He already does. In fact, there’s nothing I could do to have Him love me more. Or less. He loves me perfectly and has offered new life through Jesus. (John 3:16-17) It’s not about me, it’s about Him.
So then, why do good works?
“For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14)
In Christ, we have so many freedoms. It is comfortable to think freedom means we can focus on ourselves, making our lives better and easier. However, we see here Paul charges us to not just focus on ourselves, but to love and serve others. This is often contradictory to the values of the cultures in which we live. We might experience tension when we choose to put aside our rights and freedoms for the benefit of the Body of Christ.
Lean into these tensions, Sister. The Lord is leading you and I into these spaces.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.”
How in the world could we do this? Serve others in this way? Impossible.
“Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth— and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
In humility, Jesus humbled Himself to the Father’s will, even to death on a cross. God’s name was glorified in that act. “For this reason,” God then highly exalts Jesus and we see His name is the one by which we receive salvation.
Our big takeaway is that to love others, we must serve them. When we submit our desires to a lower position and elevate their needs over ours, we are ultimately giving God the glory.
In my life, I put this into practice by serving my husband in the department of food. We grew up on different continents and have very different comfort foods. I don’t love some of the things he loves and vice versa (although I’m not sure why…what’s not to love about hamburgers?!). I choose to cook what he likes after a rough day to bless him. I cook his foods for our kids, so they grow to love what he loves. When it is my turn to choose the restaurant, I often choose a place I know he prefers, even if it’s not my favorite. I love him. I want him to know that. I want to serve him, so he knows I value him. We are a unit; I pray we can act as one, serving each other and glorifying the name of our God.
Whom could you serve today? Maybe the Lord is calling you to love someone you don’t really like to love. Ask for His grace to step up to the task. Love and serve through His power. Receive His joy, and bring Him glory!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!