As I stated a couple weeks ago, I have decided to make our family's "theme" for the year "Unity -- We are all on the same team." I've been musing the past couple weeks about exactly how to go about creating an atmosphere of unity in the home and have come up with the above catch-phrase and a few ideas. Imagine my delight when I opened up my Bible to do some further study on unconditional love and found Philippians 2:1-11.
In these verses we find Paul addressing the need for unity in the body of Christ (vs. 2). A unity that is both the result and demonstration of unconditional, Christ-like love. A unity that can only come about when we are ready and willing to lay down our own interests and wants for the interests of others.
Many of us think we have selflessness decently wrapped up. I don't, for example, consider myself a self-centered person. But the selflessness described in Philippians 2:3 & 4 goes pretty deep.
Paul tells us not to do *anything* out for our own selfish motives. Do I clean, read to my kids, plan outings and traditions for the family, and even kiss my husband for the benefit of my kids and husband; or do I do these seemingly selfless tasks for my own peace of mind or in order to receive thanks or recognition from someone (anyone). Do I make plans for the family that suit my desires and interests, or do I look to put my wants aside and plan for what others would like to do? Paul suggests that we look at ourselves as less-deserving than others and to look to the interests and desires of others above our own. This is where I struggle. "Why shouldn't we watch the movie I want, go eat where I want, spend the weekend as I'd like. . . I'm every bit as important as J and the kids. My wants and desires and interests matter just as much as theirs do." But this type of thinking leads only to a self-serving attitude and a breakdown of family unity. My husband and kids are to more important to me than even myself, so their interests and desires come first.
Some may scoff at this idea. "Surely it is unhealthy to put my own desires and interests aside like that. God made me who I am, and I should cultivate these interests that He put inside me." Well, maybe; but according to Philippians 2:5-8 we are to have the same mind and attitude as Christ had when it came to these things. Christ was God -- He knew He was God, living in the glory of heaven, surrounded by the praise and adoration of the angels. He had it all. He couldn't even have a desire because their was nothing left for Him to desire. . . Except for unity with us dirty little humans. And for that He shed it all. He put off the glory of being God, He left the riches of heaven, He made Himself man in the lowest form possible. He humbled Himself to become lower than us so that He could serve us. He humbled Himself by sacrificing all the glory of heaven. . . and then He sacrificed even more. And this is the example we are to follow.
We're not told to keep a clean house so that we can sit on our sofa and feel good and comfy. We're not told to cook a good meal or choose the resturant of our choosing so we can have food we like or in order to avoid food we don't like. We're not told to sit down with our favorite book, magazine, blog, or tv show for our rest and entertainment. We're not told to plan our weekends so that we can pursue our God-given interests and hobbies. We're not told to arrange our holidays and vacations so that we can run the show in a way that seems most fitting to us or in a way that benefits us most. Even our birthdays are not our own, really.
No, we are told to give. To get over ourselves and make it all about others.
That is tough, but the result is well worth it.
For Jesus' humility, He received exaltation, acknowldgement, and praise. For our humility, we will get the real reward: unity with our family. Could you really want more?