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  • Writer's pictureAdelee Russell

Chasing the Spotlight

Philippians 2:3, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves” (NLT).

I love how bold and honest Paul is under the instruction of the Holy Spirit. It’s tough to read but it’s also fertile ground for growth if I can bring myself to receive it.

Can you remember a time when you said or did something to impress someone else? If you’re like me you can probably remember LOTS of times you did that, and you’re probably cringing.

I can remember SO. MANY. THINGS. I’ve said and done over the years to try to put the spotlight on myself and impress the people around me. So many silly things that make me cringe—all so I could feel special for a moment.

Paul tells us: “Don’t try to impress others.” Clear instructions. But so hard to put into practice. Why?

I decided to asked myself: “Why do I so naturally slip into this trap of trying to impress others?”

The answer lies in where I seek my worth. My head knows my worth comes from God, but my heart still longs for assurance of my worth from other people.

I can’t imagine how many precious opportunities to reach out to people that I’ve wasted all because I was trying to call attention to myself.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think we should overcompensate by never talking about our interests, or refusing to accept compliments, etc. Both pride AND self-condemnation have one common denominator: Self.

True humility is not beating ourselves down or wallowing in self-condemnation (after all “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1 NLT). True humility is not being consumed by ourselves at all but by Christ. True humility is not staring at our successes OR our failures, but at Christ alone.

The next question I decided to ask myself was: “If wallowing in self-condemnation and paying penance isn’t the way, then how do I squelch this desire to impress others?”

And God drew my focus to some verses earlier in Philippians chapter one. In verse 21 Paul says, “For to me, living means living for Christ…” (NLT).

The only thing Paul was concerned about was Christ. The only thing he strove for in conversation was to tell other people about his Savior and draw their attention to Jesus, not himself.

How did he get there? I think he offers us a clue in verses 9-10, “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much more glory and praise to God” (NLT).

And lastly in verse 25 he says he hopes they will “grow and experience the joy of [their] faith” (NLT).

Three things jump out at me from these verses:

1). It’s a process. Because of Christ we have grace to grow. And over time, as we grow to know God and His love for us more and more through Jesus HE will transform us and give us understanding. And we will realize more and more what really matters in this life.

2). Intimacy with God is key. The closer we grow to God the more mesmerized we will be by His love. And the more we come to fathom His love the more we will experience His joy that is the fruit of our faith journey with Him.

3). God’s love gives us a foundation for action. The more we are filled by the love of Christ and experience the joy that comes from Him, the more steady our focus will become, and the more we will be able to live on mission—no longer consumed by ourselves. We will come to know that our worth is secure in Christ. We’re good. We don’t need anything else. So now we can focus on Jesus and on those to whom He wants us to reach out.

Still cringing about those awkward memories from the past? The good news is you don’t have to. God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). You and I don’t have to wallow in the sting of our mistakes. We can get up. We can take hold of Christ’s outstretched hand and ask Him to be our guide on this journey of growth and transformation.

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