J.I. .Packer highlights the spiritual battle we all face: “We are all engaged in a constant, inescapable battle against spiritual degeneracy in four forms: Our unhumbled pride, our unbelief of God’s word, our lack of forgiveness of others, and our aversion to taking risks. All these forms of spiritual degeneration banish true spiritual joy…” (J.I. Packer, “Self-Care for Pastors,” Crux, December 2003/Vol. 34, No. 4, pp.2-13)
How are we to counter this spiritual degeneracy in our lives? Simply put: Ask the Lord to make you a man for others. The Apostle Paul sets forth this charge in Philippians chapter 2. What does it practically look like to become a man for others? There are four marks set forth in this passage of a man for others: Radical humility, loving forgiveness, vibrant faith, and bold risk-taking.
The first mark of becoming a man for others is a life of radical humility. The stimulus for developing a humble mind is to look at the cross. Jesus Christ, THE Man for others. He saved us rather than Himself on the cross. Reflect on that cross. Hear Christ speaking to you… “‘I am here for you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’”
He died for you, now, how does He want you to live for Him?
A man for others looks for practical ways to mortify pride and cultivate humility (Philippians 2:3-4 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.)
John Stott would remind us that at every stage of our Christian development, pride is our greatest enemy and humility our greatest friend.” Pride is spiritual cancer…humility is blessed self-forgetfulness.
Key Skill: Actively look for ways that God is at work in the lives of other people around you.
Make a practice of observing how the Spirit is evidencing His fruit and His gifts in the lives of others around you. How about your wife? What is she more aware of – evidences of grace that you’ve noticed or the need for change and your displeasure? How about your children? When was the last time you specifically and sincerely informed your child of an evidence of God’s grace that you’ve noticed in his or her life? The leader who is always finding fault is full of pride.