Others Devotional, volume 31

Are You Ready? by Larry Baker

Scripture:  “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love … then make my joy complete by being like-minded … by being one in spirit and purpose. 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 others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. ” Philippians 2:1, 3-5

Others – It’s Not About Us. I have really enjoyed this year’s theme. Philippians happens to be my favorite book in the Bible, so I’ve also appreciated the verses we chose to accompany that theme – the verses that were read at the start of this devotional.

I have a few observations to share, then a personal testimony, and finally, a few words of encouragement.

One observation is that these instructions from Paul’s letter are aimed at believers. He begins the passage with a condition. “If you are united with Christ” and “if you find comfort from his love.” Unbelievers are not united with Christ and only Christians find comfort in being loved by Him.

A second observation about the passage is that this focus on others, this business of being unselfish, will help us to look more like Jesus. I’m not an expert on world religions, but I would guess that other religions have gods that reflect attributes of love, of power, of justice, maybe even of grace, but I doubt any other religions have gods that reflect the attributes of Jesus, namely his selflessness. Jesus came to die. His mission could not have been accomplished without the cross. We’re called to model Him, to have that same mindset.

A personal testimony: I have been the recipient of the selfless nature of some students. This will seem very minor to you, but it meant a lot to me. One week, I told my small group that I was a little nervous about giving a chapel speech to the entire K – 12 student body. I shared with them my plan and asked them to pray for me. Time went on and the morning of that chapel I was standing in my normal place by the bus drop-off. One member of my small group got off the bus, spotted me, and as he walked past looked me in the eyes and with a smile asked, “Are you ready?” His question assured me that he had remembered and he was thinking about me.

Later that morning, I was sitting in the gym as students were filing in for chapel. A class of fourth grade students was walking by me and one little guy stopped and asked me the same thing, “Are you ready, Mr. Baker?” This is the same kid who stopped to talk to me by the buses one afternoon. Sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Kornelis, was standing next to me, so he can vouch that I’m not making this up. The boy said, “Mr. Baker, I know you have a lot of important decisions to make. Just do what you think is best.” A fourth grader! He’s ten years old! (Ten and going on 21.) Selfless behavior and words, just like selfish behavior and words, has no age limits.

And lastly, my encouragement: Use your words to focus on others. Don’t underestimate the power of a kind word. Jesus demonstrated his selfless nature by obediently going to the cross. I pray that none of you will be called to go to that extreme, but it would be an equally Christ-like thing to wake up in the morning and ask yourself, “I wonder who might be facing a difficult challenge today? How can I encourage that person?” If we are united with Christ … If we have comfort from his love … then that is what we are called to do.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your love. Your extreme love caused you to give up your only Son. Jesus, thank you for your obedient spirit and your selfless nature that brought you all the way to the cross. Spirit, fill us. Fill us so full of yourself that others can’t help but see the selfless nature of Jesus shining out of us each day. In the name of that Savior, we pray. Amen.

About the Author: Larry Baker – son of Clarence; husband of Joan; father of Ginni, Larae and Joel; grandfather of Kai; lover of books, baseball, and conversations with first-graders.

Originally published on May 12, 2017.

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