“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:1-4 (NIV)
When people think about being like Christ, they frequently look at the thing Jesus did early in his ministry and not his whole ministry. What did Jesus do?
- Fed the poor and homeless
- Cared for widows
- Healed the sick
- Loved the unlovely
- Sacrificed fleshly pleasure
We frequently do the first four things on our list, but fail to do the last two. Several times in the Bible it records that Jesus prayed:
During busy days, he prayed.
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:6(NIV)
Jesus prayed before he began the day.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35(NIV)
Jesus prayed for other people
But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32(NIV)
Jesus prayed for all believers:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:20-26(NIV)
Jesus prayed that God would be glorified
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. John 17:1(NIV)
But the most important prayer was when Jesus sacrificed his fleshly desire to do the Father’s will. In fact, this was so important that he prayed the same prayer three times. Jesus was struggling with his fleshly desire.
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39 (NIV)
He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Matthew 26:42(NIV)
So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Matthew 26:44(NIV)
The primary thing that Jesus did was to glorify the Father. To glorify the father, Jesus had to sacrifice his fleshly desire and do what the Father asked him to do.
If we are going to glorify the Father as Jesus did, we also need to pray for God’s will. We need to sacrifice our fleshly desire so we can do the will of the Father.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-26(NIV)
If we are going to feed the poor and homeless, care for widows, heal the sick, love the unloved; we cannot follow our fleshly desires. When we do these things in our own way, we are only doing a legalistic act to show God how much we love him but in reality we are seeking our glory…not the Father’s glory; we a providing an inferior love, an inferior joy, an inferior peace, an inferior forbearance, an inferior kindness, an inferior goodness, an inferior faithfulness, and an inferior gentleness, and an inferior demonstration of self-control.
The only way that we can provide genuine, spiritual fruit is when we have sacrificed our fleshly desire and determined to do the Father’s will. Do you really want to do the Father’s will or do you want people to see how “Christ-like” you are?
NOTE: Scripture verses in this article were downloaded from Biblegateway.com.