It's a mad, mad, mad, mad March!

John Hill

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…"  Philippians 2:1-5

Every March, the madness begins as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament debuts with 60+ teams all hoping that they can win 6 games in a row (for some it’s 7) and be crowned the national champions.  People all over the country will fill out brackets, place bets, and tune in to hours and hours of basketball over a period of weeks to be a part of the spectacle.  March Madness definitely lives up to its name!

In addition to all the fans, NBA scouts will be watching in the hopes of identifying the next great professional basketball star so that they can draft him in June.  But what makes a player great?  Is it the athleticism, the shooting prowess, defensive ability, or of course all of the above?  It seems to me that there are thousands of people in our nation who have the athletic ability to become a great basketball player, but there is always something that distinguishes the greatest from the very good; the very good from the average; and the average from the disappointed.

I think the Apostle Paul, while writing to the church at Philippi, lands on two things that I think make the difference between adequate and great.  Paul challenges the believers to take on a mindset “which is yours in Christ Jesus.”  Basically Paul tells his readers that Jesus thought in a way that many people didn’t, and that His way of thinking was a source for greatness.

What was Jesus’ secret?  I think Paul reveals it in verse 3: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” 

Simply put, Jesus leveraged His considerable giftedness, character, power, and authority to make others around Him better.  He looked out for others and made choices on behalf of their best.  The same thing that makes a great basketball player makes for a great follower of God: the willingness and the drive to make others better. To do this requires great humility, which I define as elevating God and elevating others; two things in which Jesus thrived at.  To elevate God and others requires a ton of discipline and focus; which, by the way, are also traits that make for winners in the athletic world.

I can already hear what you are thinking, “why is it bad to have ambition or look out for yourself?”  Actually, it is not bad at all; it is only disruptive to our walks with God when our ambition is ‘selfish’ (v.3) and when we ‘only’ look out for own interests and not also for the interests of others.  As long as your ambition and efforts to look out for your own interests are on behalf of God and others, you are displaying the mind of Christ and in fact doing what God wants you to do.

So ask yourself some questions:

·         Do I seek to honor God and glorify Him with all of my pursuits?

·         Do I seek to leverage my resources for the benefit of those around me?

·         Am I contributing to the encouragement, compassion, and joy of others around me?

·         Am I making others around me better?

I think that if we all strive to live in unity of purpose and seek the common good of each other as it relates to our faith and practice, then we will be champions for God.  We will find ourselves in environments where God is glorified and in a community of people where everyone is welcomed, challenged to walk with God, and impacting on those around each of us who need God in their lives.

Would you consider your role in making others better?  We don’t all have to be super stars, or on stage, we just all need to contribute and we each need to play our part on the team.  May God lead you and bless you as you seek Him this week.

 

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