Of All the People in the World

I am amazed that Christ never pitied Himself.  Of all the people in the world that we would think would have the right to indulge in some well-earned self-pity, Christ is certainly the foremost.

He did not come to be served but to serve.  He did not come that others might lay down their preferences for His sake, but that He might lay aside not only His preferences but His divine glory for their sake.  He considered others’ interests above His own every day of His life.  He did not minister to the healthy, but to the sick.  He gave to those who had no means to repay Him.  He never did His own will — He would never have allowed Himself to — but the will of the Father who sent Him.  He was the epitome of selflessness.

The devastating difficulty of being such a giver is that when others don’t respond the way you’d like them to — when they don’t appreciate your grace, when they don’t value your ministry, when they don’t react with gratefulness for your sacrifices — self-pity is the natural response of the sinful heart.  “I give and I serve and I sacrifice for you, and this is what I get?”  But Jesus never said that.  And I am astounded that He never said that.

I am astounded because not only was He underappreciated and undervalued and unnoticed, but the neglect that He received pierced far deeper.  He was abused.  His own did not receive Him.  He was not welcome in Nazareth, His own hometown.  The people whom He loved and whom He came to deliver sought His life early and often.  The “religious leaders” who ought to have been His like-minded partners in kingdom ministry stood staunchly against Him at every turn.  His closest friends and companions all abandoned Him in the darkest hours of His life.  He died miserable and alone.

But He did not die throwing a pity party for Himself.  His last breath on earth was not accompanied by the thought, “I can’t believe it — I come to give my life for these people and this is how they treat Me?  Forget them.”  Rather, He finished three decades of generosity by saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  And then He died, rose again, ascended to heaven, and continued giving — and He will not cease to give for all eternity, to those whose sins He Himself bore on the cross they deserved.  Do you not love this man?

Jesus Christ was amazing.  Oh, how I want to be like Him.  To be able to give and give and give and at the end of it all to still be saying, “Father, bless those whom I have served.  Forget me.  Bless them.”  My flesh wants to say, “Ok, it’s been a long week, I’ve really spent myself for others the past few days, and it’s high-time someone knew about it.”  Or (a back-of-the-mind thought), “I think I’ll take about ten minutes and think of all the hardships I’ve faced and sacrifices I’ve made over the past month.”  Or, “Woe is me… life is so hard.”  The man whose life of unrelenting sacrifice we will never even comprehend much less imitate never even thought these things.  He lived a life of free grace, never demanding to be repaid by self-focused, self-congratulatory pity.

I am amazed that Christ never pitied Himself.  Of all the people in the world…


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