Our attitude determines so much about us, our life, and our relationships. I confess that I find myself all too often with a raunchy attitude. I know as a parent, I often have to have an attitude check, sometimes I even invite my kids to participate! My attitude can shift suddenly and without warning. It could be about the weather, the traffic, the dogs, people around me, or you name it. It doesn’t take a lot for my attitude to take uncontrollable nose dives. One thing I notice when my attitude starts to tank, is that I think only about myself. It’s a shocking discovery to recognize, in the moment, that you are being horribly self-centered.
Paul wrote to some folks in Phillipi about their attitude,
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
Well, that’s a good place for me to start with my attitude check! When I think about Jesus’ attitude, it stands in pretty stark contrast to mine. The true mystery of what Jesus did astounds me in a fresh way this morning! I mean think about it…He had equal status with God! He had this miraculous attitude of humility, selflessness, and obedience and He left his divine station to endure the horrors of His time on earth. He somehow loved me and you enough to do all that! I am moved to those sappy tears this morning when I think about it. My heart is moved towards Jesus in such a tender and grateful way when I think about the enormity of that calling!
It moves me in a fresh way to desire to respond to Him. I love how Paul lays out this idea that if you have benefited in any way to what Jesus did, respond accordingly. It’s all too easy to sit in the mindset of “What Jesus Did”, responding only at Christmas and Easter. Or worse, getting into the mindset of only calling out to Him when we’ve jacked up our lives so bad that only His intervention will straighten it out. Paul sort of lays out a challenge to Christ-followers to respond to the attitude Jesus had by adopting it for themselves.
I think the phrase that especially jumps out at me is Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. It sounds crazy, I know. I mean, that is about as counter-cultural as you can get. Where is the sense in me putting myself aside and helping other people get ahead? There is no sense in it really, not humanly speaking. It is a mysteriously divine calling that comes from the depths of your soul when you can’t help but respond to Jesus’ attitude.
What does it look like for me to put myself aside today? How can I find ways to intentionally help others get ahead? What about you?