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Considering others better than yourselves

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Philippians 2:1-13

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I wonder how you see yourself in comparison to other people


It is all about me. Other people exist to serve me. 

Of course, very few of us would admit that this is how we see ourselves, but if I look at myself then I know that this is my default position. This is how I operate. 

And in fact the world encourages us to live here. It tells us that we can build the universe around us, that we are worth it, that we must assert our rights.

And even if we are in pain - physical or emotional - then the 'I' gets even bigger, and other people get smaller. It is much easier to be gracious and humble before other people when we are feeling well! And one of the astonishing things about Jesus is that as he hangs on the cross in excruciating agony, he thinks of others - of his mother, of the criminal beside him, even of the people crucifying him. 


Perhaps it should be not like that, but like this. We are all equal. …

Learning how to disagree graciously

Romans 14.1-12

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This is one of those passages which, when we first read it, we think ‘what on earth is going on’, but then discover that there is so much for us.
The issue that was tearing the church in Rome apart at the time was the question of special days and food.
There were some Christians, probably from a Jewish background, who were vegetarian. This was probably not a health decision, or a decision made because of the inhumane treatment of animals. It was a decision that was made because most meat sold in the market had been slaughtered in pagan temples and dedicated to pagan Gods, and so many people felt they could not eat it. 
And these Jewish-Christians also wanted to keep special Jewish days. They said Jesus is the Messiah who came to fulfil the law, so all those special days that we had as Jews – the fast days and the feast days, and the Sabbath – are still special, and we want to observe them.
And then there were other Christian…

How dare you not forgive?

Matthew 18:21-35

John Grisham, in On Sycamore Row, writes of the father of two brothers, Kyle and Bo, who have been killed by a drunk driver. He visits the lawyer who represents the guilty man’s wife.
The dad says, “Are you a Christian, Jake?” “I am. Sometimes more of one than others, but I’m trying.” “I thought so. In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus teaches the importance of forgiveness. He knows we’re human and our natural tendency is to seek revenge, to strike back, to condemn those who hurt us, but this is wrong. We’re supposed to forgive, always. So I’d like for you to tell Lettie and her family, and especially her husband, that Evelyn and I forgive Simeon for what he did. We’ve prayed about this. We’ve spent time with our minister. And we cannot allow ourselves to live the rest of our days filled with hatred and ill will. We forgive him, Jake. Can you tell them?”
Forgiveness is something that is very hard, but it is also an essential part of the Christian life.
We…