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About this series
I Choose Love
How to Build Lasting Relationships
One of Jesus' last commands, and one of God's greatest delights is that His children, those who call Christ Lord, would love one another. But we all know loving other people doesn't come naturally, and it's not always easy. In this series, Chip teaches us, from the book of Philippians, Chapter 2, how to choose love and build relationships that last.More from this series
A bondservant in Jewish and in Roman culture had no rights. You might have a number of servants in the house, the bondservant is the guy who picks up the doo-doo, he is the guy who empties the trash, he’s the guy who has zero rights, no anything, anywhere, at any time.
Could you just pause for a moment? Could you imagine? When you think of how we cling to our rights – “How come they didn’t do that for me?” “Don’t they know who I am?” Can you imagine the Creator of the universe taking the form of a bondservant?
And it says He is made in the likeness of a man. The word likeness is our word schema. This is the word that means just the outward fashion of, the appearance of. And He was fully human, except He wasn’t like all other men. There’s no sin nature. Jesus, everything He did He said, “Follow Me. Model this.
I can do nothing apart from Him.” His entire life was: “I am dependent on the Father, and in the power of the Holy Spirit to live this life so you can follow behind Me and you be dependent on the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit.” And He did that because He loves you. He did that to rescue mankind. He descended into greatness.
You want to have a mindset? Want to embrace the mindset with regard to your position? Right? We all have one. We do. And prestige. Like, what makes me a somebody. Let me give you three characteristics of the mindset of a servant. You might jot these down, and then think about how they might play out in your home, in your driving, at work.
Characteristic number one: no job is too low. Why? Because you’re a servant. If there’s trash on the ground, pick it up. Why? You’re a servant. No recognition is required. No one needs to know who you are. No one needs to say, “Oh, wow! You’re…” No recognition. You don’t have to casually, like I certainly do at times, tell people that you know so-and-so, or you work so-and-so. See, you don’t have to bring recognition to yourself.
No job too low, no recognition needed, no thanks required. When a servant would do his job, no one said, “Oh, wow! Thanks so much!” He’s a servant. That’s what he’s supposed to do: serve all the rest of us. You see, it’s a mindset. Can you imagine what it would be like to be married to someone who thought their job was to serve their mate? Can you imagine a mom or dad who thought that the whole goal of their life was to serve their children in a way to help them be responsible and to grow up? Can you take any more?
Let me give you three characteristics of what makes great servants.
Number one, they observe needs. See, real servants realize: I’m not here for people to serve me. And so they observe needs. If you have ever been to a very good restaurant and the waiter or the waitress, do you ask for water? They are there. You ask for a second of this. They are watching your table and they observe needs. When you stand up and when you are here, do you just go and talk to someone you know or are you observing, “I wonder what the needs are. I wonder how things are going here. I wonder if they need help in the children’s ministry. I wonder if they need help over here.” Who might need....?” Servants have this mindset of: there might be some needs I can fulfill.
Second is they take initiative. You don’t have to ask them. They just take initiative. Oh, wow, there’s a need? I’ll fill it. I’ll take care of that. I’ll do that. And, third, they don’t draw attention to themselves. Now, that’s pretty different, isn’t it? That’s what Jesus did.
And He loved deeply and better and that’s why He’s the greatest human being who ever lived, because He was a human being. Fully God! But a human being. That’s how He viewed position and prestige.
Finally, we become truly great when we embrace Christ’s mindset toward productivity. Ask yourself: what did He really accomplish? Quite a bit, huh?
“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Underline the words humbled Himself, put a box around becoming obedient, and then circle death and circle on a cross.
Jesus descended from the supreme Creator and Ruler to taking on human flesh, to being a servant, to making His life a sacrifice, to dying for us, and then to die in the most humiliating way known to mankind.
Now, here’s what you need to get, especially those with a sensitive conscience, which I really appreciate. The way to eliminate your pride is not to focus on how arrogant you are. It’s not to walk out of here and go, I think of myself and I am really into position and, yes, I think my possessions make me a someone – blah, blah, blah, blah. No, don’t go there.
When you try and get rid of pride out the window, it comes back in the door. If you get it out the door, it’ll come back in through the attic. You know how you can become a humble person? It’s really, really easy. Obey. You obey your way to humility. Because humility isn’t some feeling.
Humility is considering others more important than yourself, so what do you do? You act on the truth that these people are actually more important than me, therefore, my time will go toward helping others, my money is going to go toward helping others, and my talents will go toward helping others.
And more than some kind of feeling, you do what Jesus did. He acted on it. And, by the way, just little note, put a little star, He didn’t feel like it. Do you remember the garden? Emotionally, Jesus didn’t, love is giving another person what they need the most, when the deserve it the least, at great personal cost.
Jesus was not in the garden going, “Father, from eternity past, We are going to save them. This is great! Holy Spirit, I want to high-five You! I’m going to go to the cross! We are going to do this!”
“Oh Father, oh Father, if there be any way, not My will, but Yours be done. But if there is a plan B, a plan C, I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be separated from You, I don’t want the cost, I don’t want the pain. I don’t want to do this. Nevertheless…”
Could I tell you something? When you don’t feel like reading the Bible and read it; when you don’t feel like praying and pray, when you don’t feel like giving and give, when you give time and you care when you’re tired and say, “I don’t feel like it, I don’t feel like it,” I don’t think you’re being a hypocrite. I think you’re probably more pleasing to God than almost any other time in your life.
It takes a lot more faith to obey when you don’t feel like doing it. You are living in such a feel-oriented culture. I’m kind of tired. I don’t feel like reading. I’m kind of tired. I don’t know if I can make it to the small group. I’m kind of tired. I’m so worn out. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
How did Jesus feel? He was beaten within an inch of His life. They crushed thorns into His skull. Love serves. I choose love I choose to serve. And something supernatural happens when that occurs. Humility grows by obedience.
If you walk out these doors and go, I want to be more humble, I intend to be more humble, you will not be humble. You act your way into humility. Obedience is the pathway to humility. Humility is about considering others, people more important than yourself.
So, let’s do a quick test and then we are going to get to something very exciting, like the really wonderful side of the rewards of humility.
Here’s the test: how others-centered are you? Okay? Get out your device or devices and just scroll through the last two or three weeks and how many names and times on your device(s) are about serving other people? And how many are about you? That will tell you.
Second is go home, pull up your bank statement and a couple of your credit cards and look at where your money went and ask yourself how much of the money entrusted to you, because it’s not yours and it’s not mine, went to expressing your love to God and to helping other people? And how much of it went to you and to service your debt?
See, the reason Jesus talks so much about money is because it’s at the core. It’s the MRI. If you want to know where your heart is at, it’s not how you sing a song. It’s not how often you come to church. If you want to know where your heart is at, it’s like the old thing, just follow the money.
And so the reason He says and taught to them, Look, the first ten percent, just so you know that I own it and you don’t, you write that check to Me. But if you live on a bit of a budget and you decide how much is enough, then over and above that how much is enough, you begin to share and give and love.
And then what He says is as you keep descending into greatness, all these people’s lives change and people get loved and people come to Christ and they experience the life of Christ. See, my money tells me whether I am humble or whether I am about me.
And then I ask myself, What about my talent? Where’s my talent going? My energy?
Did you know in Christendom, fifty percent of all the people who go to Bible-believing churches do not give anything of their time or their money? And I would love to say our church is a big exception. It’s not. It’s exactly that same place.
And, by the way, if you look at our numbers, we don’t need your money. I mean, we could do a lot more. But my challenge is: you want to be a servant, then serve. Get your priorities in order, get your time in order. You can’t do anything I’m talking about unless God speaks to you and strengthens you.
Your priorities will never get right until your finances get right. And if you think there’s any ulterior motive, give it somewhere else. But, maturity, joy, power, love demands humility that requires obedience.
Now, just before you think, Oh my lands! I want to tell you something that makes all this worthwhile. Are you ready? The next and last point is we experience the reward of true greatness when we follow Christ’s example of servanthood.
Now, remember I said: “Everyone wants to be great”? Are you ready? Okay. How great do you really want to be? Okay? How great do you really want to be? Because if you were willing to take your position, your possessions, your prestige, your power, and say, “I am a steward of that and I am going to use that humbly as God directs to serve and to love God and to love others,” here’s the promise: Christ will exalt you. He always exalts those who practice humility.
In fact, notice, here’s the example from Jesus: “For this reason,” – what reason? This descending into greatness, also, “God highly exalted Him,” literally, it’s super-exalted Him. “…and He bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,” – why? “…so that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow,” – where? “…of those who are in heaven, of those who are on earth, and those who are under earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ,” and put a box around, “Lord,” the word is Yahweh.
He is referring back to Isaiah 45:23 where God, Yahweh, says, “I am the One and every knee will bow before Me.” If you want a passage, God the Father is Lord, Jesus is Lord, and notice the reason, “…for the glory of God.” Mother Theresa didn’t own a whole lot and there’s people who have built huge, huge things but we remember Mother Theresa, why? She just loved people and she loved people that no one cared about. And God exalted her. As you humble yourself; as we, as a church, like never before humble ourselves by being obedient, God will exalt you. What would it be worth? What would it be worth to have a deep, loving, connected family? Deep, loving, connected friendships? Be the person who changes the entire culture where you work or your neighborhood.
See, God gave Jesus the greatest position and the greatest name. Now, here’s the deal, we need to apply this very specifically and I want to do it very soberly. For those of you who are here and you are a follower of Christ, you’re absolutely certain that you are in God’s family, you have trusted Christ, at a certain point in time you were convicted of your sin and your lifestyle, you realized that you needed to be forgiven and saved by a holy God and you extended the empty hands of faith and said, “I turn from my past life and I ask Jesus to come into my life and forgive me for my sin. I believe You died in my place and rose from the dead.”
If you’re one of those people, here’s the question, your knee is going to bow and you are going to confess Him as Lord. My question is, is He Lord today?
If you have never said, “I am all in,” and saying, whatever that means: my geography, my family, my money, my dreams. I may be a little scared. In fact, if you’re not a little scared, you don’t know what I’m talking about. But I am going to trust God and I am going to stand up and I am going to publically declare: He is my Lord. He will call the shots from this moment on. And if you have never done that, I’ll ask you to stand. And I will tell you, you will experience power, some difficulty, and some joy and reward that you have never experienced. And you will find yourself having to get into God’s Word because He will begin using your life.
There’s another group of you that you’re here and you’re exploring and you wouldn’t claim, necessarily, to be a Christian, or you’re not really sure if you are in the family or out of the family. You’re a good person, a moral person, you’re visiting a church. But if you died today, you are not absolutely certain that you would spend eternity with Christ. Every person is going to bow the knee and you will profess Jesus is Lord.
Option A is that if you haven’t done that, you bow the knee and you humble your heart and you say, I need You, God. Will You forgive me? I want to turn from sin, I ask You to come into my life, and I want to follow You.
Option B is you say, Well, I’m not ready to do that. Maybe later. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do. I’m not sure about this God stuff. If that’s good for you guys, fine. I’m going to do my own thing.
The day will come when you will bow your knee and instead of joy, looking at your Savior, in absolute dismay and distress, you’ll go, Oh, I remember when I was in that church and I heard God’s voice and I may never hear it again like this. I so wish I could go back. But you can’t. And He brought you into this room, on this day, to forgive your sins and give you a new life.
God, wants you to be great. He wants you to be great. He just wants you to descend into greatness.
The acid test of greatness is: it’s love. This is about being loving people! The road to greatness, have you got this word down now? It’s humility. The road to greatness is considering others more important than yourself. And, finally, the opportunity for greatness – it’s serving.
It’s serving in the church, it’s serving at home, it’s saying: I’m a servant. No job is too low. I am a servant. I am available. I’m a servant. I don’t need recognition. I want to be a part of the change agent. I’m not someone who comes and sits and observes and intellectually believes the things that everyone intellectually believes. I am a servant. God, just show me where to plug in.