“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:5-7)
The “Christmas Spirit” is a spirit of giving. That is what Christmas is all about, right? It isn’t a matter of what you get, but what you give. In most cases, we are referring to the giving of material goods that have been thoughtfully selected or created, wrapped with care, and ultimately given to someone as a sign of love. There is a tremendous amount of joy to be found in the giving process and I personally believe that God is honored by our loving gifts to one another. The reality, however, is that this desire to express love by giving gifts can be supplanted by a spirit of striving and grasping at this time of year, overwhelming the Christ-like spirit of surrendering and emptying oneself that we see in Philippians 2.
Obligatory gift buying, competitive decorating, compulsive eating, covetousness, jealousy, and envy can mar the “Christmas Spirit” as we strive to outdo and overwhelm others with our generosity, thoughtfulness, creativity, and devotion. In doing so, we rob ourselves of the joy intended to be found in following the example of Christ who made it His aim to joyfully spend Himself for the benefit of others and the glory of His Father.
Instead of striving and grasping for His own recognition, gain, glory or fame, He faithfully and quietly “emptied Himself.” He endured all things humbly – even the cross! He didn’t buy anything for us, yet He gave us EVERYTHING He had to give, sparing nothing, not even His life. He allowed Himself as the Son of God– and therefore equal with God – to surrender His rights, surrender His position, and surrender His life to the service of the King and our salvation. He allowed Himself to be confined to the body of man, never using his deity for His own gain, so that He could give to us as a free gift what He had rightfully earned: righteousness.
Discipleship Challenge: In the course of conversation today (kids, discipleship relationships, non-Christians) consider one or all of the following questions in light of this text and devotional thought:
When Paul mentions “this mind” in Philippians 2:5, he is referring back to a thought laid out in Philippians 2:1-4. Review these verses and discuss what “this mind” or manner of thinking is. What thoughts and actions are suppressing this manner of thinking or competing with the Spirit in your life during this season? In your life in general?
Spend some time in prayer asking God that you might become aware of at least one opportunity to give more of yourself, not something material, to someone else this year for their good and God’s glory.
Shad Berry serves as the Chief Operating Office of Downline Ministries.