Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.Philippians 2:5-8
It’s one thing to claim a desire for Christlikeness, it’s quite another to live each day with the selflessness Jesus actually exhibited. For although He is the exact imprint of God the Father, Jesus walked the dusty Middle Eastern streets without a shred of the honor due his Name. Instead of coming in glory to compel our worship, Jesus came as a sacrifice.
As I meditated on today’s passage, the Holy Spirit revealed an ugly truth about myself. When I’ve said, “I want to be Christlike,” what I’ve often wanted is the exaltation of Christ without His depth of humility; the glory without the gore.
I wanted to be perceived as a servant while forgoing the distasteful business of always putting others’ needs before my own. And a decades-long battle with chronic migraine and myalgic encephalomyelitis makes this attitude oh-so-easy to justify.
Some might say I have good reason for frustration when I come home, achy and fatigued, only to find the house seemingly full of dishes and dog hair. But the truth is, my anger is mere self-focus and leads only to resentment.
I’ve wasted enough of my life nursing resentful thoughts. Whether justified or not, they only warped my attitude and grew into caustic actions and words. The more attention I focused on my need, the more malignant the needs seemed to grow.
There’s nothing remotely Christ-like in such a life.
The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.– G. K. Chesterton
By God’s grace, His Spirit intervened, opening my eyes to this self-centered and self-inflicted poison. I repented, yielded this area of my life to Him in prayer, and asked that He make me more like the Lord I love.
Now when unmet needs provoke irritation, He whispers, “My grace is sufficient…”
When my family leaves housework me to do after a job or volunteer work has left me drained, the Spirit murmurs, “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve…”
And when I’ve given all I have to give and there is so much more required, He calls to mind the words of Paul, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering…”
After all, if my King came to live on earth as a servant, why should I expect anything more than servanthood for myself?