Thursday, 1 March 2012

Joy in Making Others Joyful

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility count others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Well, there's a challenge! I have been reading Philippians recently and have been finding the challenge to live relationally everywhere! Basically I think Paul is saying that being a Christian isn't something we do by ourselves, it's not an individual pursuit - rather, it is overwhelmingly corporate and relational. In chapter two he says that if Christ means anything to us then we'll live seeking to glorify God in the relationships we have with other people in the places He has put us.

Of course v 3 seems impossible (in humility count others better than yourself) - my selfish heart thinks itself better than others possibly every minute of everyday. But (and my heart also cries this!) surely at some things I am just better and I therefore should have the praise and rewards that come from being so? But this verse doesn't say that I am not better than others (although I know that I am not!) - it just says COUNT others better than yourself. So I need to decide when my two year old comes to me wanting to read a book or build a tower whether I am going to count them as better than my own selfish desires, or whether I am going to deny them this and continue with my frantic, never ending list of chores.

You might say "well, you do need to cook tea or put the washing on" - and this is very true. But I know that I often spend the time I could put aside for this (when my twins are napping or asleep in the evenings) exclusively to do stuff I want to. And my pursuit of cooking a meal or trying to produce a tidy, clean house continues in the hours that my kids could do with my attention. Now I am not advocating the abandonment of house hold chores and neither do I want my children to only be able to play with me along side them. I'm just trying to think practically about what it might mean for me as a Mum to count my kids as better than myself.

It might mean spending longer to do certain tasks/routines with my children because rushing them through them will cause them stress and anxiety. I'll need to plan my days accordingly.

It might mean thoughtful, longer conversations over situations that have arisen or discipline issues rather than just raising my voice in anger. I need to explain why something was wrong and what Jesus thinks about it rather than just showing them I'm cross.

It might mean going to bed earlier so I am less tired and therefore have more patience and energy!

It might mean sacrificing stuff I would like to do (the TV programme I might want to watch, the book I'd like to read, the person I'd like to meet, the place I'd like to go) because Anna or Hope would like me to do something with them at that particular time.

I'm not suggesting that the desires of my children should rule my life. I'm just suggesting that Jesus knows that MY own selfish desires rule my life and he challenges us to find our joy as Christians in making others joyful, not in pursuing the stuff we want. He is the perfect example of this - although God he became nothing, serving humans on an earth He created - dying for us so that we might find eternal life through Him. There is no greater example of someone who found His joy in bringing joy to others. I want to pray that I'd do this too - as a Mum, a wife, a neighbour, friend and part of my church community. I want to live relationally, like Christ.

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