Summary: Attitudes, Compassion, Our Relationships, Jesus
GROWN UP CHRISTIANS – My Older Brother is My Hero
Philippians 2:1-11 (pg. 819) June 14, 2015
I am a fighter... I can’t help it... it’s part of my nature... I’m not completely sure if it’s taught or caught... whether it’s part of my DNA or whether my life experiences have created in my heart the “you wanna go...OK let’s go” attitude in yours truly... but it’s my go to reaction when something I don’t like happens... or when I encounter something or someone that’s mean or unfair.
But my brother Sammy is the polar opposite... He’s courageous and good, but he’s the gentlest man I’ve ever met. One of my earliest memories of Sammy was when I was 4 or 5 at my MeMaw’s on Colony Drive... She had a huge house next to a creek and a big patio out back made of white stones... and I was on that patio killing ants. I am not sure why I was killing ants, but I was... And Sammy came out, saw what I was doing and told me to stop... I immediately ignored him and kept killing ants... He went and told Mom and Dad who immediately made me stop...laughing all the way.
As I look back, I understand why they were cracking up... first of all, it’s normal for a 4 or 5 year old to kill ants... so please don’t’ try any Freudian examinations of my psyche. But it’s not so natural for a 14 year old to care for the life of an ant... but my brother Samuel Arthur Burdette did.
I think that’s the reason he’s my hero. That’s who he is... perfect? NO! but it’s his nature to think of others... he’d rather be at peace than cause conflict... he doesn’t want to hurt, he wants to protect... even if what he is protecting is small, many legged, and bites. He’s humble and gentle of heart.
Where have I heard that before? Oh, yeah... it’s in Matthew 11:29, where Jesus tells us, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Grown Up Christians have taken that request to heart... it’s a request that I have to focus intently on every day of my life as a natural born fighter... it’s probably why Jesus said:
“You cannot be my disciple unless you deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
When Jesus makes definitive statements it would behoove us to pay attention...whether it’s to Nicodemus: “You cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless you are born again.” (John 3) or “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself, die, and following my lead.”
“Cannot” and “must” are pretty definitive!
Surrendering my nature to fight and win at all costs is a daily process. It’s something I have to intentionally do when the Holy Spirit speaks to my soul. Some days I do better than others. This doesn’t mean we become passive to injustice or sin. Jesus didn’t, and He dealt boldly with religious people who legalistically lived with anything but gentle and humble hearts, but if we’re honest...most of our desire to fight comes from self...not the Spirit, and not wanting to hurt others isn’t even thought of. That’s why a “new birth” and “real discipleship” (daily) is so imperative.
I. BEING UNITED WITH CHRIST IS WHERE THIS ATTITUDE BEGINS
The Apostle Paul starts our text in Philippians chapter 2 with the words “Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ.”
Looking at what the “therefore” is there for we see he’s just talked about the Philippians going through similar struggles as Him. “Since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.” (Phil. 1:30)
Have you ever noticed that shared hurts in Christ are a more powerful bond than shared victories? Both can be powerful, but struggles cut deeper than victories.
And the truth is I cannot get out of myself unless Christ gets into me. And anyone want to guess how Jesus teaches me to be gentle and humble of heart?
In the book, “The Signature of Jesus” by Brennan Manning he writes:
Jesus says: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). These beautiful words are a portrait of the heart of Christ. So we respond, “Jesus, gentle and humble in heart, make my heart like yours.” Now we are really in for it! We have just opened Pandora’s box. Why? Because we don’t learn humility by reading about it in spiritual books or listening to its praises in sermons. We learn humility directly from the Lord Jesus in whatever way he wishes to teach us. Most often we learn humility through humiliations. What is humility? It is the stark realization and acceptance of the fact that I am totally dependent upon God’s love and mercy. It grows through a stripping away of all self-sufficiency. Humility is not caught by repeating pious phrases. It is accomplished by the hand of God. It is Job on the dunghill all over again as God reminds us that he is our only true hope.