A Daily Refocus [Philippians 2]

1Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,2make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 14Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above rep12So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;13for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 

There is a battle going on in my mind when I read passages like this one in Philippians. I want to please God instead of recognizing that He is already pleased with me because of Christ and so I begin to focus on what He wants me to do.  For example, in verse 3, I am "to do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than" myself...  Then, I skip down to verse 14 and read that I am to do "all things without grumbling and disputing..."  What I feel is a heavy weight of responsibility that presses down on me sapping my energy and attention, and then there is the guilt that comes later when I miserably and inevitably fail to do these things with any consistency.

Each day, my natural focus is on me and what I have to do to please God and it is a choice I have to make by God's grace by prayer to say, "God, take my focus off of me and please put it on You where it belongs." Then, as I read and mark God, I have a much greater chance to actually see God in the Word and not me. And amazingly, the truth about Him blesses me and gives me joy and hope because He is carrying the weight of the responsibility for supplying through me all that I need to live His way. This process reminds me of those posters you see sometimes that look like a mass of colors and shapes until you bring it closer to your face and all of the sudden you can see a picture of animals in a forest that was somehow embedded in the poster that looks nothing like the what you were seeing a minute ago. What you see in the picture is a matter of your focus. The same is true in the Bible.

In the passage above for example, if I focus on God, I get a radically different picture than when I focus on me. Look at the list of what God provides from the verses above.

Encouragement in Christ
Consolation of love
Fellowship of the Spirit
Affection and compassion
Christ's example through the gospel
Source of the desire (will) and ability (way) to live His way

We praise you God that because of Christ, we do not have to be focused on us and our performance, but on You and and the grace (power) you lavish on us through your Spirit. Cause us to get up each day and refocus on You and what You have done, are doing and will do in our lives.
Beth Warlick, 5/16/2009
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