Reflections: September 9, 2021
Thursday of the 14th Week after Trinity
By James Leistico
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Martin Luther said, "The world is like a drunken peasant. If you lift him into the saddle on one side, he will fall off the other side." As Christians, we know that by nature we are selfish little monsters who do not want to help others unless we get something good out of it. Repeatedly we have heard the Bible command us to fight those impulses and care for other people without thought of reward. The sinful nature pushes us to "fall out of the saddle" one way by lying to us that we have loved the right people enough and God does not expect more from us. Or, or it uses an evil conscience to pound us until we fall the other way because we have not cared for others every moment of every day. Despair overwhelms us in this case over how much of a failure we think we are.
Philippians 2:4 defends that well-meaning Christian from this false belief. It does not say that you must only take care of the interests of other people. Rather, Paul specifically says you need to deal with your own needs, and also the needs of others. It is like when the airplane flight attendants tell parents that in case of emergency, they should put the oxygen mask on themselves first and then help their children.
An even better example is that of Christ, who humbled Himself to become a servant to us in His life and death on earth. Even when He became obedient to death on the Cross, Jesus looked after the worldly concerns of His mother Mary as He told John to take care of her (John 19:27). And yet, there were times when Jesus looked after His own interests, like when crowds wanted Him to heal their diseases, but He purposely went off by Himself to pray, rest, or eat.
The unbelieving world thinks, "If I do not look out for myself, nobody else is going to do it." Christ was able to die for our salvation because He trusted that God the Father was looking out for Him.
As sinners, you and I will not balance helping ourselves with helping other people correctly. But the same God who highly exalted Jesus in the resurrection now looks out for your interests by grace for the sake of Christ. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Lord of glory, You have bought us With Your life-blood as the price, Never grudging for the lost ones That tremendous sacrifice. Give us faith to trust You boldly, Hope, to stay our souls on You; But, oh, best of all Your graces, With Your love our love renew. ("Lord of Glory, You Have Bought Us" LSB 851, st.4)
-Rev. James Leistico is the pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in Windsor, ON.
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