Words of encouragement and rebuke.

Reflection on Philippians 2:1-3
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

For me, these words are full of encouragement and rebuke.

Rebuke, because this idea of doing nothing from selfish ambition or conceit – nothing from the place of pride, self-interest and to promote myself – wow… this is full of rebuke for me.

I think also as human beings, we are all guilty of self-interest again and again. For those among us who follow Jesus, sadly this is something from our old nature that does not yet disappear. We still choose self-interest and self-promotion.

But here our model is Jesus. Paul goes on after these words to talk about the humility of Jesus who laid down His rights as the Eternal God and He humbled himself, and became a man.

Even more than that Jesus came and died as a man the death of a criminal the shame of the cross… but why?

Because it was the purpose of His Father to rescue sinners… It was the purpose of the Son to obey His father. He came and died for sinners… for me… and for you…

What humility… It is humility beyond belief. Would the monarch die for the slave? Or more accurately… would the monarch die for the prisoner – guilty of high treason?

And so, He did. The Monarch, King Jesus, died for the traitors.

The picture for the follower of Jesus here, is to think and so live this same way. In the interest of others. Putting others first. Laying our lives down to serve one another as Jesus did. Being united and filled with love for one another. Self-giving.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16).


Taste and See His Goodness!

Reflection on Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

I love the psalms. They are so raw and real. They bring out both the highest expressions of thanksgiving and praise and the lowest valleys of distress and despair. David who seems to have penned a lot of these psalms was a human being like us. He had struggles like us, temptations like us, and he failed like us.

In fact, he committed murder and adultery. He was a man who knew both the depths of his own failings but also the riches of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

He had tasted and he seen that God is good. He says earlier: “I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” And later he says: “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

If you are anything like me, and like David, then you are someone who has struggles, whether emotionally or physically or mentally. There are struggles. And more than that we are people who have failed to live lives that give God thanks and praise – in fact, left to ourselves we are much better at giving anything and everything else thanks and praise then to God.

But David had experienced God’s goodness. The God who had forgiven his sin, the God who had rescued him and helped him to trust in Him in the midst of his fears. Have you experienced the goodness and love of God?

God sent Jesus out of love. He died in love for you – to rescue you, to rescue me, from all our sin. How true are the words of David’s call, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”

Those who choose to trust in Jesus for forgiveness and follow after Him as King – it is not that we won’t struggle (on the contrary!), but there will be such joy and praise that wells up in us and that is yet to come that will make anything experienced now somehow not even worth comparing with what is to come… (Romans 8:18).

Father in heaven, thank you, thank you, thank you for Jesus, help me to taste and see Your eternal goodness!