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Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Php 2:1-11).
As we prepare to celebrate the first coming of the Son of God, it’s a time of reflection of all Christ has done for us.
Think about the tremendous sacrifice made! God lowering himself, pouring his perfect and unlimited being into broken and finite flesh is an unimaginable sacrifice in and of itself! So much that not a few religions (not to mention atheists and agnostics) categorically reject the idea as ludicrous.
Yet this is part of the foundation of our faith: that God took on humanity.
This is a bigger step than if you were to become a single bacterium. To bacteria, you are unimaginably big and powerful. There is an almost immeasurable distance between you and the microbes. And if you were to become just one microbe, how much you would be lessened! It’s unfathomable!
Yet as utterly less you would make yourself if you became a microbe, that itself is nothing compared with the Son’s sacrifice in becoming human!
And not only did the Son become human like us, but he submitted himself to death. And not just any death, but literally the worst death humanity had thought up since its beginning. It was a death that dehumanized its victims, making them the object of all scorn, robbing them of their basic dignities. And all the while, it inflicted terrible pain, forcing the victim to inflict even more pain on themselves by leveraging themselves up just so they could breathe. They died by suffocation when they were finally not able to lift themselves anymore.
The Son took on himself a death that was so horrible, its victims often pleaded with people walking by to kill them, offering to sell whatever things they might have left to whoever did them that mercy.
The Son had no need to do this. The Son was not human. The Son was not subject to death. The Son is eternal, the Son is God.
Yet the Son chose to do this for us.
No one has greater love than this: that a man lays down his life for his friend.
And even more so if the man laying down his life for his friend didn’t even have to be a human in the first place.
If we truly believe this happened, then what?
Paul answers that clearly in the first part of the passage: Love one another!
Look out for others and their needs! Stop worrying so much about your own; look out for those for whom God sacrificed so much!
This is commonly called the season of giving, yet why do we do this? We give to honor Christ. We give to remember the gifts Jesus was given to honor him as king. We give to help those in need. We give to show our love.
It’s a good thing, and I’m not telling you not to give presents. If anything, I think we should give much more than just presents to our families and maybe our closest friends. Donate to food pantries, homeless shelters, and the like! Do you know someone who is having trouble paying rent or needs to fix their car? Why not pay for it for them?
Be unified with each other as we are unified with Christ! How much time and energy do we spend cutting down the people around us? Too much! We criticize because it’s easy, but what if we went the extra mile to figure out how to help with the problem rather than just pointing it out? Because criticizing people isn’t loving; helping them is.
Value other people as more valuable than yourself! Sacrifice for them as the Son sacrificed for you!
But most of all, thank God! Because he is the source of our hope! Without God’s sacrifice, we would have no hope whatsoever. He gave so much. Be eternally and constantly grateful!