Philippians 2 isn’t the spot most of us land when thinking of Christmas. Instead, it’s usually Luke 2, where we’re provided a play-by-play, of sorts, of the birth of Jesus, our baby-King-Savior-Lord-Good Shepherd. Oddly enough, Paul’s letter to the Philippians is where I was when I was prompted to think of the Christmas season…
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others.
Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
As if this exhortation by Paul wasn’t enough to chew on, pray over, and digest all by itself, I ventured into Matthew Henry’s thoughts related to this passage to dig deeper. There they were – what I would decide to call the Eight Must’s for this Christmas Season…
- We must be severe upon our own faults and charitable in our judgments of others.
- We must be quick in observing our own defects and infirmities [physical or mental weaknesses], but ready to overlook and make favorable allowances for the defects of others.
- We must esteem the good that is in others above that which is in ourselves, for we best know our own unworthiness and imperfections.
- We must interest ourselves in the concerns of others, not in the way of curiosity [nosiness] and censoriousness [inclined to judge too severely, critical, fault-finding], or as busybodies in other people’s affairs.
- We must be concerned not only with our own credit and ease and safety, but for those of others also, and rejoice in the prosperity of others as truly as in our own.
- We must love our neighbor as ourselves and make his/her case our own.
- We must be of Christ’s mind.
- We must bear a resemblance to His life if we would have the benefit of His death [or His birth].
Wow! I took inventory. Conviction caught my heart.
How easily I can follow this exhortation for those I haven’t met but feel called to serve during this time of year vs. how much less I can live this out with those I know well.
How different our Christmas gatherings would be if we entered the holiday season with this exhortation in mind! How much more edifying our actions in response to the Christmas letters we read if we followed Paul’s instructions!
Dear shepherd leader, this is how we’re called to influence and impact the world around us – no matter the circumstance. We are to have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Humility. Service. Provision. Protection. Presence.
May this Christmas find you in a different spot as well…