“THE WAY UP IS DOWN” This is one of the most popular saying that Christians use to show the importance of humbleness. The book of Philippians, written by the apostle Paul, is one best book in which the subject of humbleness and sacrificial love is discussed in a wonderful way.
When we read the book and look at the characters that are portrayed in it, we see that those we are asked to imitate are those who are living a sacrificial life, starting with the author himself who is in prison at that moment, he asks the readers to “join in imitating” him (Php 3:17) (not to imitate by being imprisoned but to accept to suffer for Christ). We also have Timothy who is concerned with the welfare of others and not his own interests (Php 2:21) and Epaphroditus who almost lost his life in the service of Jesus Christ. Paul requests that we honor such people. But we have the real model to imitate who is Jesus Christ Himself. His sacrificial love is even greater considering the extent in which he humbled himself to be a slave and actually ended up dying for us a shameful death. This is the mindset that a true disciple of Christ should have (Php 2:5-8). So the message of Paul in this epistle is “ACCEPT TO BE A SACRIFICE AND REJOICE”.
HOW TO BE A SACRIFICE
We have three ways that are shown to be a sacrifice:
– Persecution is a way of being sacrificed for God. Paul himself was persecuted and imprisoned because of his allegiance to Christ Jesus (Php 1:12-13). Jesus also was sacrificed when He was put to death by the Jews leaders and the Romans.
– The service/ministry is also a way of offering ourselves as sacrifices to God. This was the case of Epaphroditus who almost died for the work of Christ (Php 2:30). Again Jesus also did that by “being obedient to the point of death” (Php 2:8).
– A Gift/Offering is a sacrificial way that the Philippians showed their love for Christ. The gifts they sent was “a fragrant offering, a “sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God” (Php 4:18). And Jesus gave his life for us.
Allow me now to address a certain danger here. People tend to consider every little thing they do for the Lord as a sacrifice. But I want to emphasize the fact that a sacrifice is extremely costly, that is why we call it a sacrifice. As we saw it, Epaphroditus was at the edge of death because of the service he was rendering. The Philippians gave things out of their poverty (2 Cor 8:1-3 please read it), this actually reminds me the well known story of the old lady who gave all she had (Mark 12:41-44 or Luke 21:1-4). For most of the people that are mentioned, their sacrifice included their very life.
It is hard to consider something to be a sacrifice when we are still in our comfort zone. We should be careful not to be like the Israelites in the time of Malachi. They were offering polluted offerings; blind, sick and lame animals, meaning things they did not need or care for; by doing that they brought a curse on themselves. It is what the apostle call to be an enemy of the cross (Php 3:18) people who worship their belly meaning they live only for their physical needs and having their mindset on earthly things.
Paul went to the point of accepting the loss of everything for the knowledge of Christ. The sharing of Christ’s suffering is a way through which we come to know Him.
No pain no gain!
Hear what the Lord is saying!