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The Daily Battle of Becoming Like Christ
Sometimes I wonder, am I doing enough today, this week, this month, for me to be saved by God? Have I shown up and done the work to earn my salvation? I think we all at some point feel like we have not earned our salvation. But the amazing news is that, it is nothing that we do that saves us. It is all God, and Philippians 2 lays it out plainly for us so that we can’t confuse how we are saved and who saves us.
Right out of the gate, Paul is telling the church in Philippi (and also us) that any bit of faith we have that Jesus is who he says he is—if we have seen or felt that at all in our walk—we are to emulate it in our lives. Just as Christ laid down his life for us, Paul is reminding us and calling us to lay down our lives for others (v.2). This is especially relevant in the unprecedented time we are in today. It is a time of change, maybe discomfort, and growth—wanted or unwanted. Yet we are still, and always, called to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility, consider others better than yourself” (v.3). To me, this always seems so simple when I read it, but then I realize that my flesh is so strong, and I often focus on myself first, which makes it quite difficult to put this into action daily. Especially if I am not setting my sights on Christ first each day and striving to be like him.
Paul helps us understand what becoming “like Christ” means and looks like. In verses 6-11 we learn the gospel truth of what Christ did. He humbled himself, came to earth, and died on a cross for us and our sins. WOAH! Let that sink in for a second! Can you imagine doing that for someone, even someone you love? I know I can’t. But if we strive to be like Christ, to be humble and loving to others first, we are doing the will of God and making an impact in the lives of others.
An important point that Paul makes in verse 13 is that “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” This is not something that we can just do on our own by trying hard. This—being like Christ—is ONLY accomplished by allowing God to work through us every day. All we can do is meet God every morning and lay down our day and life to him, telling God, “your will be done in my life today.” And then, “do everything without complaining or arguing” (v.14). To me this means, when God puts a person or a situation in my path that messes up my perfectly planned day, or takes time away from my ME time, I stop and do it, responding to God’s call on my life. This does not earn us our salvation, it is our response to submitting to the Lord and acting out of faith to become more like him and grow his kingdom.
Are we going to be perfect at this every day from day 1? Absolutely 100% no! Praise God that he is a patient, gracious, and loving God and does not expect perfection of us. What God expects is faith and trust in Him and the willingness to act because of that faith and trust. This is a daily practice that we all must do. I can always tell a difference in my day when I do not start in the word, reading my Bible, praying and laying my life and that day down to the Lord and his will. But how awesome is it to know that Jesus did this for us in the most ultimate and permanent way so that we can even have a relationship with God?! We can do so much through Christ who strengthens us, especially in a world like today that needs love so badly. Paul uses this chapter in Philippians to remind us to be like Christ every day.