(6) As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
(7) Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
(8) Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
(9) For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
(10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power
Everyone is looking for fulfillment in life. It's amazing at how many different directions that pursuit takes people. Some try to find it in doing good to others and some seek it by taking all they can get from others. Some think giving themselves to every passion and desire will give them fulfillment. Some think asceticism and giving up everything that in any way gives pleasure will help them to find their real selves and be fulfilled. No matter what direction we choose, good or evil, our hearts are hungry to be filled with what we think will satisfy our longing for fulfillment, purpose, and satisfaction in this life.
As believers we are aware that the world's way will not fulfill us. We have tried the life of sin and found it to be destructive in our own lives as well as for others in our life. We've come to know Christ as our Savior and we seek His fulfillment in our lives. But even in the church, there is controversy over what that means. "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." When the church borrows philosophies from the world, from humanism, and tries to adapt them to their Christian life, there will be problems. Many times we do this without even realizing it. We hear those worldly ways of thinking so much that unless we are in the Word continually, filling ourselves with that Word of Christ, rooted, built up, and established in faith in Him, then those worldly humanistic philosophies begin to sound very good to us, and very much like truth. If we don't understand our position in Christ that we are dead with Him…dead to sin, self, and the world, and alive with Him…risen up to a new life, a new nature, a new power within us to live unto Him, then we are still living under the old way of thinking. That way of thinking tells us we must find our happiness and fulfillment in this life, and now as believers Christ is to provide that for us. We try to find it in our "calling" as if there is one calling for us and can only be fulfilled in that calling.
Even when we want to live with our whole hearts for the Lord, in Christian zeal, wanting to serve Him, we are unaware of our motives. Zeal for God is a good thing, right? We're supposed to live for the Lord. We're supposed to serve Him. We're supposed to go out and win souls, right? So in our zeal to do so, we are unaware that we are doing it for ourselves…our own fulfillment as a Christian. We're doing it for our own spiritual benefit, rather than for His glory. How do we know if this is true?
The first time I heard that I was shocked. I didn't think there was anything wrong with me zealously wanting to be busy serving the Lord. I didn't see how my seeking God and spiritual gain could possibly be something selfish. But the Lord showed me my heart, by showing me my failure of loving those around me. I put my "work for the Lord" and my "seeking spiritual blessing" and "gifts" above the person next to me and their needs. Sometimes the people right there in front of us that are a trial in our lives, or the person at church that is a trial for us, or the person at work that God put in our lives to test us, they are the ones God gave us to love and serve. Instead we look at programs and events and conferences we can be involved in and go to for our growth as what God wants for us and we don't feel fulfilled unless we are busy with them. We don't feel like we're "doing anything for the Lord." When something inspires us that we heard or read, we consider it "spiritual growth." Sometimes God chastises us and takes us aside, when a relationship is not right, until we see that all our serving or learning or seeking is nothing to Him, but that relationship is. We are meant to walk in humility and love toward one another. Are we neglecting that? If we are sensitive to His Spirit, we will begin to see that the trials and failures and hardships that come into our lives are the real things that God uses to grow us and make us and fill us.
The Lord began to show me the difference between selfish motives of serving and serving out of love. He began showing me that what I thought was my service to Him many times was wood, hay, and stubble. He also showed me that many times we think the "doing" is serving, when He is really looking for what we are "being." We have to take the time for Him to make us a vessel of honor and fill us with His Spirit, working in us a humility, grace, and brokenness before we can come out of ourselves in order to see the true needs of those closest to us, and those around us. Are we being Christ to them?
If there is a trial in a relationship in your life, bring that relationship before the Lord. Don't look at how that other person has failed you, but ask the Lord where you have failed them. Ask the Lord if you have loved them the same way you wanted to be loved by them, or respected them the same way you wanted to be respected by them, or if you have thought of their needs above your own, or esteemed them as more important than yourself, as our own Lord has done for us. Would you rather be wounded yourself than to hurt them? I found out myself that when His love was really in my heart for someone, that was the case. I would rather be hurt than to see that one hurt. I would rather suffer an offense than to "put them in their place." And as I brought my hurt and disappointment to the Lord instead of trying to fix them, I found the Lord worked in that person's heart and they began to see. That may not always happen, but when we are truly acting in love, the Lord works in hearts!
3) Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
(4) Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
(5) Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
(6) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
(7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
(8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
That's a good test every time we find ourselves in conflict. It's easy to point to the other person. Maybe the other person is reacting to us. Perhaps the Lord does need to deal with them, and perhaps they have wronged you. But all you can do is take your own heart before the Lord and allow Him to humble you, and to change you, and to make you what He wants you to be for that person. It is no accident God brought that person into your life. They are not a "hindrance" to your growth or your "work" for the Lord. Nothing can be if we are walking in the Spirit daily. Paul served while in chains. Every opportunity, whether in prison or free, was an opportunity for Christ. Rather than being a hindrance to growth or service, they are your growth and service. God is teaching you to walk in humility, grace, and love. He uses those closest to us to teach us that. Sometimes He uses our own family. Sometimes he uses friends or people in church who are difficult. Sometimes he uses enemies. But none are accidents in your life. We have to ask the Lord what He wants to reveal to us through each one.
Many times God takes away the very things in our lives we thought was our fulfillment in finding our place in serving Him. We thought we were called to a particular calling or ministry. But we find hindrances to that and we find it just doesn't happen. Something comes along to test us and things happen beyond our control. It looks like all hope for that is gone. But what is our fulfillment in Christ? It is being obedient to Him in the circumstances He puts us in, and allowing Him to have His way in us, trusting His hand. It is submitting ourselves to what He is trying to teach us. It is trusting Him to be glorified through whatever circumstances you find yourself in, and asking how He wants to be glorified in you through it. Perhaps sickness makes it impossible for you to go on a missions trip, or to be active in programs in the church or other ways of serving Him. If the Lord allows it, He has a purpose and has a plan to be glorified in you right where you are. He'll take care of the other things. Perhaps you planned on being involved in a ministry, but there is trouble in your own home and you have a rebellious child, or a sick or troubled child, or problems in your marriage. You feel that these things are hindrances and in your way. They are not in God's way. You may have to give up the "ministry" that you thought to find your niche, your fulfillment in, and this is not the plan you had for your life, but it is God's plan for you to be there for them. It is God's plan sometimes for you to give up your dreams for another person, to help them find Christ. It's God's plan for you to put others before yourself and ask how you can love that person better, and remember they are just as precious in God's eyes as you are, and that they are those who Christ shed His precious blood for as well. How much better to know that I pleased God by walking in love, that I would rather be wronged than to harm one that Christ died for, than that I was active in a lot of "doings" for Him. If I am doing, doing, doing, but not "being" my doing becomes nothing of any worth at all.
What is my real fulfillment? It is denying myself, taking up my cross, and following Christ. It is walking in an abiding relationship with Him every day, as I sit at His feet and listen to His heart, through His Word, letting Him lead me, and trusting His hand in every circumstance in my life, submitting myself under His mighty hand that in due time He might lift me up. It is giving up all seeking of my own fulfillment just to find it in only pleasing Him and not myself. It is seeking His glory and giving up my own. I may find my church does not fulfill my needs. I may find my family does not fulfill my needs. I may find my friends don't fulfill my needs. I've seen people go from one place to another seeking those to do so, and always leaving behind a path of hurt, and being hurt because they are never going to find that. But if God puts us in a place and He is the one Who led us there, than as we learn to walk in love and serve one another there, that's where we will find our place in Christ. We won't find perfection in people, and maybe we'll have to "bear with one another" for a time, and maybe we won't have opportunity to use our "gifts," but we are learning to be His church, and His children, and allowing Him to work in our hearts, and through that we become a testimony to the world and others around us. It is in that, that we are receiving true gifts from Him that can have true value to others and it is through the process that true fruit of the Spirit is developed in us and will flow through us and God is glorified in our midst. We are not independent of the body of Christ. We are His body and we must treasure that body and do all we can to strengthen it, being committed to it in love. We do so by giving up of ourselves for one another in the Spirit, as HE works in us to make us, to strengthen us, and to build us into that building where He will dwell in us forever.
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (1 John 3:11)
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:16)
If you want to know more about this salvation and are not sure you are going to Heaven, you can know. His Word assures us how we can know. Click here to read more.