Articles

Articles

Emptying-Ourselves

I’ve grown up the youngest of three siblings. My brother, Jeremy, is six years older than me, and my sister, Tabitha, is nine years older than me. So I’m not just the baby by a technicality, but I’m the baby by a healthy span. Given that my brother had a few healthy years on me, he was in a position of physical dominance over me for at least a decade and a half of my life. My brother had no shortage of opportunities to wrestle me in to submission. Truthfully, many of our spars were ignited by my deliberate annoyances, knowing that if Jeremy retaliated he would ultimately have to answer to Mom. It was worth being beaten up every now and then to see my brother get in trouble! I’m sure that if you ask my mother, she’ll tell you that there may have been times where it didn’t seem like we would ever stop fighting. But this brief article isn’t about fighting with our brethren. It’s about being in a position of humility. My brother was dominant over me for many years. The question often popped up in my head: “When’s it going to be my turn?” 


As a young man, I decided to attend Purdue University and study pharmacy, and if the Lord is willing, I will complete my studies in just a few, very countable months. What really made me commit to Purdue was a brief encounter with the Purdue Varsity Glee Club. I joined the choir in high school and absolutely loved it. I had heard of the Glee Club, but didn’t have any personal experience with them. My dad and I visited Purdue one spring day in 2010. We stopped by PMO (the greater organization that the Glee Club is a part of) and had the opportunity to listen to a rehearsal from a different group. I was very impressed, and when it was known by the director of PMO that I was planning on auditioning for the Glee Club eventually, I was coaxed in to auditioning that day! My audition went very well, and to make a long story short, I was accepted in to the group. I spent the next two years performing for large groups of people just about every weekend and developing the gift of music that God has blessed me with. I truly enjoyed the opportunities that I was given within the group. And yet, there will still people who were “bigger than me.” I was a freshman, a sophomore while I was there. There were seniors and juniors who were in positions of leadership and authority. I eventually came to know and be comfortable with what was expected of me, but there were always people telling me what I had to do, and I had no choice but to listen and obey them. There were many days during those two years that I asked the question: “When’s it going to be my turn?”


I don’t think I’m the first person to ask this question. In every phase of life here on Earth, we find ourselves in positions of subservience. There are always people to whom we must answer, and there are always people whose interests we must put above our own. Does “our turn” ever come?


Brethren, Consider Jesus.


Paul reminds the Philippians in chapter 2 that “although Christ existed in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” How stunning it is, that Christ, who existed in the same form as great I AM, would choose to be a servant! 


We read in John chapter 1 that someone called “the Word” existed in the very beginning, that He existed with God, and that He, Himself, was God. We read in verse 3 that “all things came into being through Him.” Whoever, “the Word” is, He is in a position of true power. And then we read in verse 14 that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” How incomprehensible it is, that the Creator would choose to become like the creature!


Brethren, if ever there existed an individual whose rightful place was to be in charge and stay in charge, it was Christ. What does it say then, that this Christ chose to become a servant? And not only become a servant, but become (Philippians 2:8) “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”? It is the most astounding story to be told: that there could ever exist a God who would choose to suffer and die. But He did choose to die. And because Christ submitted Himself to the will of His Father, (verse 9) “God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.”
I have often asked myself that question: “When’s it going to be my turn?” When I look at these verses, I begin to better understand the answer to that question. If the Creator of Heaven and Earth can choose to lower Himself to be a servant, why can’t I, a man who has only known this fleshly existence, do the same?


Finally, consider was Paul says in Philippians 3:7-11. I ask you to purposefully read and meditate on these verses. 


“Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him… that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”


May we all have hearts that treasure service over self.