In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. [Philippians 2: 5-11]
I’ve been meditating a lot lately on the idea of privilege. I don’t have a lot but I am comfortable and by world standards I am very well off. Even when taken in context of my own country I’m not doing too badly.
I am white, I am male and I am “native born” so by nothing more than an accident of birth I already enjoy a huge advantage over a large portion of the population who might not be any of those things. Not to put too fine of a point on it but I have been born into a life of privilege that many will never know. Indeed I sometimes have difficulty grasping all the ways in which I am privileged myself.
By the standards of ancient history the city of Philippi was a very privileged society. The city was founded as a sea port for a gold mine. Just up the hill, inland from the city was one of the richest mining regions of the ancient world. The people who lived in Philippi were wealthy merchants and traders who made their fortunes on the backs of gold miners and others who came to the city in search of fame and fortune. Had God chosen to reveal himself in human form in 19th century North America the book of Philippians would be called Klondikians.
And what did God have to say to these rich and powerful merchants and traders? Give it away!
Over and over again, throughout the book of Philippians the message is clear. You have much, it has been given to you through no effort of your own, and the gold is just sitting there for the taking. You have done very little to “earn” it so it is your responsibility to distribute it equitably.
God’s grace is very rarely distributed around the world in an equitable fashion. There will always be people who seem to have been given more than others.
This has been done as part of God’s design. God is love. He wants us to live in community and relationship with one another. As part of his plan he has distributed his grace around the world un-evenly so that those who have more are expected to enter into relationship with those in need and be agents of God’s grace. We see that modeled here in Philippi.
Those of us who live in the wealthy developed economies of the world live in a sort of modern day Philippi. We are wealthy beyond the wildest imaginings of more than 2 thirds of the world population. Much of our wealth has been bestowed upon us for no other reason than an accident of birth. Like the city of Philippi our “gold” is just sitting there to be picked up and be distributed. God put it there, not us and he put us here to be agents of His grace to the rest of the world.
God is calling you to release His grace upon the world. Let go of the things that were never meant to be solely yours in the first place.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. [Matthew 6:19-21]
If you release your treasure into the world, to help those in need your heart will follow. And that’s what it means to be to be an agent of God’s grace.
- What are some of the ways you have received God’s grace?
- How do you plan to be a better steward and distributor of that grace?
- What’s holding you back?
Go and love on the world!