1-4 If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if His love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. 5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of Himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of Himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, He set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, He lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.Philippians 2:1-8 (The Message)
We are in the 3rd week of looking at One Resolution that will give our hearts the one thing it longs for most of all: Contentment. This One Resolution is to Live A Life Worthy Of The Gospel! Not the “Gospel of Our Best Efforts” but the Gospel of Jesus—God’s Best Effort For Us. Because it’s all about God’s Grace, it’s not left up to our best efforts to honor Christ, But To Honor Christ By Allowing Him To Live In And Through Us With The Power Of Resurrection!
It comes by making 6 Conscious Choices every day. Here’s the first 2:
- Live With An Undivided Heart—That’s the One Spirit. Your loyalty and allegiance is to Jesus and His Work in our world.
- We Need To Be The Community That Has A Pinpoint Laser Focus On The Kingdom Of God—That’s the One Mind. We focus on each other and those who are not here yet.
Now we come to that Third Key Decision in finding the life of real Contentment. It is so obvious, yet so difficult for so many people. And Here Is The One Thing You Need To Remember From Today’s Message: To Live In Contentment, Find Your Unique Life Purpose. Few things make contentment more elusive than not knowing our Unique Life Purpose. And most folks have no idea how to discover their Unique Life Purpose.
And I’m about to say could make it even more frustrating. Your Life Purpose Isn’t About The What You Do, But The Why! The What causes us to think about The How: How will we do it? And The Why is completely ignored.
Purpose, Your Unique Life Purpose comes out of The Why. Why Did Jesus Die On The Cross For You? Why Did He Save You? And the Pivotal Question is this: Why Are You Here?
There is a “flip-flop” quality to understanding today’s scripture. It goes counter to our usual way of thinking. America is the home of Davey Crocket who conquered the wild frontier and Wyatt Earp who tamed the Wild West. We honor and value independence, self-sufficiency, strength and the glory of a “self-made” man or woman.
Surrender is what we did NOT do. With brains and brawn we became a super power in the world. “American Ingenuity” is the brilliance that made us great. Then Jesus comes along to say that strength and intelligence does not make the cut when it comes to Contentment. He dares to tell us that the way to Contentment is through Him. And then Jesus has the audacity to tell us that to live with and for Him, and for Him to live in and through us we are to live like a servant.
Then this fellow named Paul comes along and tells us to have the same attitude that Jesus had. Jesus had no business empire; no college degree; never owned a fancy house; never wore designer clothes; never rubbed elbows with those considered the cultural elite. How counter-cultural can you get? We cannot fight, or think or power ourselves into the Life Of Contentment.
Former Guideposts editor Arthur Gordon told the story of a kindergarten class he visited where the teacher frequently reminded misbehaving children to stop being a WAM. The kids straightened up as soon as their teacher pointed out they were being a WAM. He had to know: What was a WAM? The teacher explained that WAM stands for “What About Me?” She was training the children to be less self-centered. She wanted them to think of others’ needs; not just their own.
She taught them that no one liked a WAM, a self-centered person who only asks, “What About Me?” Instead, she was teaching the children to be a WAY, or as she explained it, people who ask, “What About You?” She was teaching those 5 year old kids about Contentment.
You and I are people of the WAY. We ask “What About You?” We get lost and lose our Spiritual Foothold when we become a WAM. But the life of Contentment is for people of the WAY. So, are you a WAM or a WAY?
Let me show you what happens when we become a WAM instead of a WAY. In the 1800’s the train ruled the day. Owners of railway companies prospered and were called barons. But the automobile came along and the railroad barons forgot they were in the transportation business. They thought they were in the train business and most of them went broke.
The Swiss had dominated time keeping. At one point they controlled over 50% of all revenues made in watches and clocks. They made the most precise gears and springs in the world. Their watches and clocks were perfect. Then something new happened called the Quartz movement.
Guess who invented it? A Swiss man. But because it had no gears or knobs or springs it was overlooked. They failed to recognize that they were in the business of helping people tell time not making precision gears. They lost their dominance in the industry now controlling somewhere about 15% of all revenue.
If Sports Illustrated magazine understood it was in the sports information business, not the publishing business, we would have the Sports Illustrated Channel, not ESPN. And folks, if we forget that our Why is to bring people to Jesus, we will also become obsolete. If we lose our Why by getting distracted with tradition, habit, custom, ritual, or routine, we will go the way of the trains, the Swiss watch makers, and Sports Illustrated. We must remember our Why. We must at all costs, fulfill our Unique True Purpose—that comes out of knowing Our Why!
Every person has a Unique True Purpose that God has given to them. Not for just the few and special; but all of us have a purpose from God that is uniquely our own. Yours will be what God has designed you to be. But before we can know the purpose that is uniquely ours, we must be clear about our Why in life. Without understanding and accepting this Why in life, we will never discover our unique purpose. And Paul lets us know that there is a Why for every one of us.
He lets us in on God’s Why for our lives. He states it in verse 5: Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of Himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of Himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.
They do not teach this in high school; it’s not offered as a degree in universities; and it’s not taught in graduate school. Yet this is exactly what God tells us is the key to finding our Unique True Purpose—that comes out of knowing Our Why! It’s not about money, prestige or power. It is all about relationship—with God at the very center of our lives. Our Purpose will be found by discovering The Why. It’s a 3 step process that Jesus followed as our example.
1. He Emptied Himself
Jesus, who had it all in Heaven—gave it all up to become one of us! Unlimited in space, unfettered by time, adored and worshiped by angels and saints—He chose to be one of us. In becoming one of us He is now limited in space, and bound by time—He allowed people to talk ugly about Him—He allowed Himself to be falsely arrested—and when they couldn’t find a reason to have Him executed, He gave them one.
Jesus allowed Himself to be publicly humiliated and finally nailed to a Cross as a common criminal to bring back His Image Bearers. This was His Why and this is to be our Why. And He could not have done this unless He first emptied Himself into the relationship with Abba! Papa! Dad!
And what are you holding on to? What is it that you have not relinquished into God’s hands? Is it time? A habit? Pride? Fear? Is there this one room in your heart that you’ve kept locked up in order to keep God out either because you don’t want to give it up or you’re afraid God won’t love you? Before we can find that Unique True Purpose for which we are created, we have to let go of everything and to be completely emptied.
And in that process of emptying ourselves, we also have to let go any and all sense of being self-sufficient. We have to be absolutely vulnerable before God and in that moment of total vulnerability we have to trust 2 things: God is always good; and God is pure, complete and unconditional love.
2. He Accepted His Place
You won’t hear Jesus saying, “Oh, Dad, do I have to become one of them?” Instead: He took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. Jesus reached out and took on being human because the Father chose it for Him. It was the Father’s plan to show us that He is not a referee, dictator or stern judge. God wants us to know that His character is not in the rules and regulations that we think about when it comes to His Kingdom. God wants us to know that His absolute, all the time, for all eternity character, is Love.
We do not tell God what is our Unique True Purpose; God tells us! We don’t inform Him of our Why: we allow Him to tell us Our Why. His Purpose for your life will be about what HE can do. God wants to move us beyond ritual and rules, beyond history and traditions and step into His very character. This Is Your Why! Accept that place God has for you where you must rely on His strength and not your own.
3. He Surrendered To God’s Plan
Jesus did not just die—He died on the Cross. The Greek word for Obedient means To Give An Ear To—in other words, Jesus was listening to the Father. God had the plan and Jesus listened to that plan and surrendered to that plan.
And that plan was to become the one and only sacrifice that would atone for everyone’s sins so that anyone who wanted could have a deep and intimate relationship with God. Jesus surrendered so that we can have the relationship that God yearns for us to have with Him, the Father, Abba, Papa, Dad! The Cross is about bringing people into a relationship with God!
The Why for your life is all about letting this world—your world know that God loves them and yearns to bring them into relationship with Him. And Here Is Where You Find Unique True Purpose! The only way our world can know God’s love is when they see us sharing our love for God with others. Jesus Died So The World Could Know God’s Love—we should live the same way—To Live So That The World Will Know God’s Love For Them!
Your exact Life Purpose is as unique as you are—but each of our Unique Purposes is designed for one thing: To Help Bring Others Into A Relationship With God, Who Is Always Good And Always Full Of Love. As much as we are to yearn for God, understand this: That God Yearns Infinitely More For You And Everyone!
OK, you know what’s next. Because you can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are, here’s your Next Step:
Find a way to do something for another person to know that God loves them. Get personally involved with another life in a way that reveals your Why—To let them know that God wants a relationship with them. Or is your Why for some other reason? Give up your Why For The Why That Always Gives You Contentment!