Recently I saw a document shared on Facebook that was an Advent of Kindness. It had a dated calendar with kind activities through the days leading to Christmas. There were some very simple acts of kindness that I hope I do every day and some others that make you maybe take a step out of the norm to do. Overall, a fun and practical way to spread kindness each day.
I was thinking about the challenge and was excited about the response I had from others on Facebook for wanting to join in. People are generally kind to the core, sometimes it is harder to see, but truly I do believe they are. I want to live my life with kindness and give grace to those around me, but let’s face it, sometimes I don’t hit the mark. Have you ever had one of those moments where you would like to go back and rewind and change your behavior to a different response? I know I have. We are not perfect and not expected to be, yet we still want to do what we can each day to show love and kindness to others. Choosing and spreading kindness can be difficult some days, but it really is fulfilling in the end.
Today I was thinking a little more about this challenge and my mind led me to some popular verses in Philippians chapter 2. In this passage, Paul encourages us to be imitators of humility. He asks us to be wrapped in love and humble ourselves and be examples of Christ and show love, kindness, compassion and tenderness for the needs of others. Philippians 2:3,4 says,
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.
I always looked at this as a practice of humility as making myself weaker or seem less than others so they can be built up, but this is not what he is asking us to do. In fact, we have to dig a little deeper to see where this is coming from and read what Paul is actually saying. In the first part of Phiippians 2 it has there word ‘therefore’ which actually ties chapter two into the end of Philippians 1. In Philippians 1 Paul begins his letter to the people of Philippi and thanks them for their support, prays for them as they learn and grow in love and depth of insight (vs 9-10), talks about suffering he may endure for advancing the gospel and then moves on to how the people should conduct themselves. In this passage we learn how to act and respond to all that comes our way with the whole picture of what Christ has done for us. He ends the chapter with these verses Philippians 1:29,30 which say,
29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
Here Paul finishes up telling us about living a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ and then brings us to chapter two which ties the verses together. Philippians 2:1 says,
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,
Here we learn to live the life of worthiness and build on it to ultimately work toward having a mindset like that of Christ Jesus. We have a road map of how to conduct ourselves and then use what we learn to encourage others.
So often verses 2-3 are interpreted differently and we try to de-elevate ourselves rather than hold fast to all God has created us to be for Him. We are created in God’s image. We ourselves are not worthy of the sacrifice He did for us, but because of that sacrifice, we are equipped and loved enough to do His work and love others through the abilities He has given us. I always thought that I was lowly and not worthy of love and as long as I uplifted others, even at the expense of putting myself down. I thought if I lowered myself I would somehow be worthy enough of the love God had for me and others would be lifted up. This is so not the case.
The other day I had a talk with one of my mentors from our company. She pointed out an observation about myself and other Christians she knew. She said that she noticed that we often don’t have a belief in the gifts and abilities we have. She said that as Christians we claim to do all we can “through Christ who gives us strength”, but then we doubt the abilities we have. Her statement really made me think. Am I just saying these words, or do I really believe God has equipped me for Him and to do His work? Am I really going to lower myself, a woman fearfully and wonderfully made in Christ, a woman made in His image, and say I am not enough? Wow, that really cut a cord in me. Why do I doubt or put myself so low? Is this really what God wants me to do?
In Philippians, Paul is not asking us to think of ourselves as worthless, not good enough, or less than others, but really we are just called not to elevate ourselves above others. We are not to live in pride and take away our true identity in Christ, the one who ultimately gives us what and who we are. God has made each one of us in His image, why do we put ourselves down so much? It really is a slap in the face to God, isn’t it?
What God wants from us, is not to think of ourselves in a lowly state, but instead rely on Him to be our force and strength and example. He wants us to be considerate of those around us, be encouragers, to lift others up, not tear ourselves down. So, with all of that in mind, I do hope this helps you to encourage others with kindness and love with a little bit different perspective.
What do you need to do to change your thinking about who you are in Christ? What were you challenged by today?
If interested, click here to see the kindness challenge I saw and shared. It’s not too late to start your own challenge today!