Expiration Dates

My mother once told me a tip about buying dairy products in the grocery story. Never take the carton in the front. It is warmer and will expire sooner than the ones in the back. So reach behind and pull a colder one from the back.

Yesterday I bought a carton of Half and Half and pulled from the back. Indeed, the expiration date on the carton was later than the ones in the front. When I read the expiration date my first thought was, “Oh wow. That’s after the election.”

Funny how we think in those terms. How many of you are like me and just can’t wait for all of this to be OVER? This current season of disunity, hate speech, lies, attacks, and downright confusion cannot end quickly enough. And I am not such a Pollyanna that I think the election will miraculously cure the divisions that plague us, but at least the anxiety of waiting will be over. Both sides are promoting a platform based on fear and it can’t end soon enough. In my area, the local political ads are filled with slander and mud slinging and have reached the outrageous level. ENOUGH.

In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul addresses the subject of being united and agreeing with each other. He contends that those things are indicative of having the attitude of Christ:

Philippians 2 (Common English Bible)

 Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort in love, any sharing in the Spirit, any sympathy, complete my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, being united, and agreeing with each other. Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. 

This must be a taste of what heaven will be like. I am so jaded at this point that I can’t imagine we will achieve this on earth. How lovely it would be to share in the Spirit, have sympathy for our fellow human, share the same love, and be united. The humility required for God’s people to live in complete harmony is probably well beyond what we can achieve here.

What would it mean to watch out for what is better for others rather than to do things for selfish purposes? What change in your life would that require?

Paul gives the answer.

Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:

Though he was in the form of God,
        he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.
But he emptied himself
        by taking the form of a slave
        and by becoming like human beings.
When he found himself in the form of a human,
        he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
        even death on a cross.

To be truly Christ-like we must be willing to empty ourselves of ourselves. We need to be humbled. We need to be obedient. We need to let God be God and realize that we are not in charge of everything.

Therefore, God highly honored him
        and gave him a name above all names,
10     so that at the name of Jesus everyone
        in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow
11         and every tongue confess
            that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The challenge for today is to practice humility. Find that one opportunity to put someone else’s need, opinion, agenda, or desire ahead of your own. Empty yourself and take on an attitude of Christ.

By the way, being Christlike in everything you think, say, and do has no expiration date.

Reflections of Heaven by Terry Wingenroth

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