The Joy of Selfless Service

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with 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 purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Philippians 2:1-5 (NIV)

The foundation to joyful selfless service is our identity. The identity of those who follow Jesus Christ is our union with Christ. We are inextricably united with Christ and thorough Christ we are united with other believers in Him. We are members of one body. This is made possible because of the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

How we view other people is a reflection of how we view ourselves. For Christians, we sometimes we are aware of our identity at an intellectual level: “I know that I am a child of God.  Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so….” You know that kind of stuff, right? I call this positional identity—that’s who we really are. This is based on what the Word of God says about us. There is also how we perceive ourselves because of our environment, what we observe around us, what we hear about us, what we learn, etc. Our perceived identity affects us more than our positional identity. We need to consciously and constantly remind ourselves of who we are—we are children of God.

Unity and selfless service is very important in the church. It is a powerful witness to the world. Someone said that the great commission in the 21st century really depends on how united believers are. One thing that Jesus desired for all those who believe in Him was that they will be one. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (John 17:20-23).

The Bible says in Acts 2:44-47 that All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

How do we live united in spirit and purpose, moving in the same direction? It is through one word: humility. The Christmas story crystallizes the message of humility and selfless service.  The Lord Jesus Christ became human so as to save us from our eternal predicament. He had his identity issues intact. He knew who he was: God.  He being God was not a position that he was to fight for or exploit for his own advantage. But he made himself nothing. Although he was eternally God, Jesus made himself a servant, even to the point of shameful death on the cross. And then God exalted him. (Philippians 2:5-11).

The Bible says:  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves (Philippians 2:3).

We live humbly by considering others better than us. This does not mean that we should have a low self-esteem but rather that we should esteem others. When you esteem someone you are ready to listen to that person, you easily take her point of view; it is easy to accept help from her.

May this Christmas remind us of Jesus’ example of humility and selfless service. May we joyfully and selflessly serve others for the glory of God.

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