“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5 NIV)
Friend to Friend
Thirty-six. A dozen – three times over. Wow. It just doesn’t seem possible. On the one hand, I feel like I’m twenty-six, yet on the other hand, I feel like I’ve already lived and entire life. Weird.
Today is my birthday…a day that is but a flashing blip on the scrolling screen of life’s calendar. Like New Years Day, this is one of the standout days of the year that causes me to pause and reflect. I’m thinking about where I’ve been, what I’ve done and what I have yet to experience in life. I find myself looking backward and looking forward at the same time. How bizarre.
I’m the middle of five children. My dad was a work-a-holic, yet a loving man, who rarely sat down to relax. My mom tells me that when I was a little girl, I used to long to be on my daddy’s lap and have his full attention - totally normal for a middle child, right? Well, apparently, I wanted my father’s attention so much, that I would aggressively push off any sibling who was sitting on his lap or who would attempt to join my ‘intimate daddy moment.’ Mercy. That must have been a sight.
In addition to being the middle child who really wanted the spotlight, I had another strike against me from day one. I was born on my sister Elise’s second birthday. This may not sound bad to you, but I can assure you that from the perspective of a child who wanted to feel special, this was rather unfortunate. We often blew out candles on opposite ends of the same cake. It was not uncommon for us to be given the same birthday present – in different colors. And if the present contained gold or silver - costume jewelry, of course - Elise was sure to get the gold because she was older.
Now I don’t mean to sound bitter or ungrateful. I’m really not. I had a great childhood. It’s just interesting to look back on circumstances that shaped my personality and my unique perception of reality.
When we only look at life from our limited perspective, I believe we are in great danger of being deceived by half-truths. Yes, I had to share my birthday – which frustrated me as a child. I felt cheated. Was I? No. Let’s get real. Elise didn’t have mommy at home when she turned two…and I’m pretty sure that ‘a little sister’ wasn’t on the list of things she wanted for her second birthday. My perspective as a kid was not truth – it was just my perspective. God’s perspective IS truth.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, I struggle and strive to understand His perspective. How? By going to God’s Word. His perspective is spelled out with extravagant detail in over sixty fascinating chapters of Scripture.
In Philippians 2:1-5 it says, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
What a challenge! I get discouraged when my human frailty gets in the way of my holiness...when my selfishness gets in the way of my service. In those times, a changed heart is found when I drop to my knees and pray, surrendering my behavior, attitude and life, once again to Christ who gives me the strength and grace I need to represent Him. What a call - to represent Christ! It makes me shudder to think how many days I try to do that in my own strength, without His help through the Holy Spirit.
There it is. My challenge for this thirty-sixth year of life and every year until I die. As I look forward, I want to passionately chase the perspective of Christ. I want to live love, give grace, model mercy and testify Truth. I want to worship wholeheartedly, praise passionately and pray persistently. Not that I might gain anything, but that Christ may be seen through me.
Happy birthday, Elise!
Precious Lord, thank You for Your grace. Would You forgive me for the countless times I have seen only my perspective and have failed to see Yours. Please crush any prideful, unforgiving and selfish ways in me and replace them with humility, grace and service. Please provide the strength and mercy that I need to get through this day – so You can be honored and so my life can point to Your hope. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Now it's Your Turn
Read the book of Philippians.
Make a list of practical ways that you can live out God’s perspective.
Do three things today to serve others in your life – but keep it between you and God.
More from the Girls
While birthdays are markers of years lived, they can also be spiritual markers, celebrations of God’s perfect plan at work in us. The choice is ours to make. Live each day, friend, as if it were your last day and when those birthdays roll around, party on!
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For more on today's topic, click here for Gwen's CD, "Because".
Girlfriends in God, Inc.
Originally published Friday, 15 September 2006.