My Rights!

Originally published circa 1998

I believe Philippians 2:1-11 could very well be one of the most important passages in Scripture when it comes to how to live with each other. Unfortunately, it is also the one that is very difficult to live by. If we can, our churches would become powerful lights in the darkness of the world.

Phil. 2:1-11

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:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death–
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Christ is our prime example. We are called to follow him, to have the same attitude as his. By having the same attitude as Christ, our relationships with those around us will often dramatically differ from the world’s. I feel that if we would simply follow this attitude of Christ, many of the conflicts we find in our Christian homes and in our churches would disappear. Church “Business Meetings” would loose the acromony that is often associated with them because our attitudes would not give place for it. How? Why?

Let us look at Christ’s attitude. He was God, the supreme being. He could do anything. It was his right to do what every He wished. Yet we find Christ giving up those rights.

Paul uses words that remind me of a little child in a toy store holding on to a toy that the parent has no plans to purchase. The child is standing there screaming, “MINE! MINE!” The parent tries to take the toy from the child but the little one holds the toy with both hands as tightly as possible, kicking and screaming.

Christ could have been just like that little child. He could have held on to being the Son of God with all the rights and privileges that were his. His RIGHTS were that He was God and could do what ever he wanted. But He put HIS RIGHTS aside to save us. He not only gave up his own rights but also took upon himself the sentence of death which was OUR RIGHT and died in our place that we might have eternal life.

Sam Rayburn was Speaker for the House of Representatives longer than any other man. One of his friends lost a teenage daughter and early the next morning Rayburn knocked on his door. “I just came by to see what I could do to help.” The father replied that there was nothing to do. “Well,” Rayburn said, “have you had your coffee this morning?” The man replied that he had not taken time for breakfast. Rayburn quickly went to the kitchen and began fixing his friend breakfast. The man realized that Rayburn was suppose to have breakfast at the White House that morning and quickly asked about it. Rayburn replied, “Well, I was, but I called the President and told him I had a friend who was in trouble and I couldn’t come.”

What a different world this would be if we could learn to become more and more unselfish.

To the Phillipians, Paul said something that is just the opposite what we hear in the world today, ” 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.” Almost unbelievable! What happened to looking out for number one? What happened to making sure I get my rights. Paul acknowledges that we have needs and that it is our nature to look after ourselves. But what he urges us to do is to also look after others, with the same fervor and effort that we take to look after ourselves, and even more so since we should “consider others better than yourselves.”

An angel appeared to a man and offered to reveal to him a vision of hell and of heaven.

First came the vision of hell. The man saw a long banquet table loaded with every delicacy, every kind of food to delight the palate and nurture the body. And then he saw that everyone seated at that banquet had both arms taped up with splints so that they could not bend their arms. There was no way to bring a morsel of food to their lips, so everyone in hell was hungry and wretched.

Then the man saw heaven revealed. Once again there was a heavy-laden banquet table, and to his surprise, the man saw that once again each person there had his arms in splints. But at the heavenly table, each person was feeding his neighbor. And no one was hungry.

What would our churches be like, what would the world be like if we made every effort to have our attitude be the same as that of our Lord and Savior, King of the Universe, God’s Son who laid down his life for us.

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