"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Pilippians 2:5-8
I have a granddaughter who is two and a half years old. It is an age when children can go from being incredibly sweet and endearing to impossibly defiant in an instant. They observe and mimic everyone and everything around them, and I find it fascinating to watch little Margaret process her observations, and see the obvious conclusions she has come to played out in her behaviour.
Nothing is held back at two. She has come to the widely held conclusion that we need to be first at everything. Tasks or requests that she previously would challenge with a defiant “No!” are suddenly of tremendous importance and very desirable if my daughter interjects an “OK, never mind, Mommy will go first.” Margaret will instantly reverse her previous decision, exclaiming “No, me first!” as she hurries off to obey the directive of the moment, be it hand washing or potty-using, or any other of the many daily requests my daughter might make of her.
It is something to see how this is an instinct that we all have. Coming first is so vital to us in many areas of life. We want to be the best, the first, the foremost. Winning is everything, and fame and fortune are things to be sought after whole heartedly. We are all alike; no matter how modest and humble we may appear on the outside, human nature is such that pride is often the motive for “doing our best”, and we all secretly, at one time or another, desire to be at the top of the heap, and grab some glory for ourselves.
In the Bible, there are many examples of this propensity toward outshining all the rest. Even two of Jesus’ disciples, James and John, sought after the most desirable position in heaven, to be seated next to Him. Like siblings fighting over the front seat in the family car, they demanded to be considered for this honour (Mark 10:37).
How unlike us Jesus was in this regard. He, though being God as well as human, spent His earthly life in ignominy, never demanding to be first, or expecting that people would treat Him with any deference at all. He had nothing to prove, being so secure in His Father’s love and will, that He laid aside His heavenly glory to live as we do. He knew His place, and said that His work was “to do His Father’s will,” even to die a shameful death on the cross.
I find I am learning many lessons in life in unexpected ways. Watching my grand daughter I see some of what drives me from time to time. Being a Christian means a continual evolving toward being like Jesus. I long to more and more rest in my heavenly Father’s love and keeping, instead of striving for things that He has not ordained to be part of my experience here.