Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 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 the others.
United With Christ
Wouldn’t it be great to live a life filled with the virtues in today’s Bible passage? Then you could effortlessly display patience with your coworkers, selflessness in your marriage, and compassion in your parenting. It would make all those sorts of interpersonal relationships better if you had this kind of mindset.
This attitude, however, is hard to come by. The temptation toward selfish ambition and vain conceit is constant. Human nature is selfish by default. We are all born with the sinful tendency to serve ourselves rather than others and to view our way as the only right way. That, coupled with a culture that encourages you to focus exclusively on yourself, makes the virtues in this passage seem unattainable.
So the question of the day is this: Can you really live a life filled with those virtues, or is that wishful thinking? The answer is yes when you are united to Christ. When you become a Christian, Jesus changes you from dead in sin to alive in faith. Because Jesus lived for you, died for you, and rose from the dead for you, God sees you as a child he loves—a child with the amazing ability to love like Jesus loves you.
God does not see you as some hopeless, lost cause of a sinner. You are forgiven, and that totally changes the way you look at others. You don’t have to be selfish, angry, or lose control anymore. Be united with Christ.
Holy Spirit, unite me to Christ and give me humility so that I value others above myself. Amen.