“Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves” (ceb). The truth of the matter is that Jesus is better than everyone else, but he refuses to brag about it! Considering that he is God’s son, Jesus has every reason to put people in their place whenever they challenge his authority or question his judgment. Vindication or being “right” is never on Jesus’ mind, only love.

Instead, he lets the way he lives his life speak for itself. That’s why he loves, serves, prays, and teaches with abandon—even with the people who most question his worthiness and presence. This isn’t simply an act of willpower for Jesus. By not worrying about getting ahead or cementing his reputation and future, Jesus is able to continue setting the stage for the world’s redemption.

Jesus is confident in his identity and therefore his purpose and mission. Can we say the same? I know that far too often I am more concerned with being right and making sure that others know it than I am with listening, letting go, and seeking harmony with others.

Paul reminds us that our highest aim is not to win, succeed, or be right. God calls us to offer ourselves in humble service and love to others. In doing so we prove to the world that the only love and validation that matter are God’s. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, such affirmation is eternal for us. Today, can you slow down? Think before speaking. Listen before answering. Love before judging. Love is the only thing worth proving.

Loving God, you poured out your love in the form of Jesus. In doing so you proved once and for all that what matters most is not power and might but sacrificial, life-giving love. Help me to embrace the humility that Jesus embraced. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 21:23-32

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Lectionary Week
September 21–27, 2020
Scripture Overview

For the second time this year, we read the story of the Israelites complaining in the desert about water, only to see God provide a miraculous spring. The psalmist reminds the people of the many powerful deeds performed by the Lord, including leading them through the sea out of Egypt and providing them water from the rock. Paul emphasizes to the Philippians the need for humility and unity. In quoting the earliest known Christian hymn, Paul encourages them with the example of Christ, who gives up all his rights for the sake of others. In back-to-back encounters with religious leaders, Jesus evades an attempt to trap him in his words and then teaches that true obedience is shown not by our speech but by our actions.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Exodus 17:1-7. When have you tried to “do it all”? How can admitting your limitations help you lead?
Read Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16. Recall times when you have known God’s presence. How might remembering and retelling these stories shape your faith?
Read Philippians 2:1-13. How does your life speak of God’s love for you and for all humanity?
Read Matthew 21:23-32. How have you created your idea of Jesus in your own image? What would change if you found your identity in Jesus rather than creating Jesus’ identity from your own?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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