“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 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: 3-8 ESV)
In my last post I talked about counting others as more significant than ourselves. I focused on Philippians 2: 4, having us introspect and consider how our lives reflect Christ’s humility in serving the Father. On that point, I want to elaborate and have us consider the eternal perspective Christ has for his people, a perspective we should have for ourselves and by extension, our brothers and sisters.
Let us take a look at the following verses:
“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
(1 Corinthians 3: 10-15 ESV)
Paul tells us that wisdom must be applied to living, and the consequences of how we build on the lives Christ laid his life for are eternal. Foremost, these verses are directed to preachers and how they must build their ministry solely on the foundation of Christ. Yet this passage also applies to every Christian tasked with making their lives pleasing and acceptable to God. In the surrounding chapters, Paul preaches on the need for Christians to live by God’s wisdom: wisdom that is unlike the foolishness of men. We can choose to live wisely or poorly, and based on how we live God will reward us for our diligence. God values our worship and He chooses to reward us for our faithfulness in upholding His commands. But that’s the thing, it’s not about this life, but the life to come. Consider Ephesians 2:10 when Paul says “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” God has given us all that we need to complete the good work in our lives.
But how does this apply to Philippians 2? We’re called to build our brothers and sisters up, and sometimes that stewardship means spurring them on towards their sanctification. What I need to make clear is that none of us, on the Day of Christ’s Judgment, will be held responsible for the outcome of another Christian’s walk. It’s clear that each of us will be judged by our own works, but part of our work is the encouragement, and sometimes the admonishment of another believer. We can never truly know what is inside the heart of another person, but with God’s wisdom and in prayer we can speak truth to a fellow believer who is in need of the refreshing Word.
Remember that Christ had it all before the foundation of time, but He chose to give up His equality with God and came down in the body of a man to save us from ourselves. He was tempted like all of us, knew the outcome of His earthly ministry, and during the final hours of His life He comforted His disciples when death loomed over Him, knowing they would inherit His ministry after He ascended to heaven. Let me close by reminding us to look at Christ as our example of having an eternal perspective for ourselves and others. Our lives are interconnected and each of us has a part to play in each others’ lives. God had that in mind when He had our lives intersect. There is a good work God has in store for all of us; let us help one another see that we all value what is eternal.