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(Part 122)


November 4, 2016

Today’s readings:
Philippians 3:17-4:1
Psalm 122:1-5
Luke 16:1-8

Today’s readings provide six action principles for effective and authentic servant leadership.

First, look for exemplary brethren and imitate them. “Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us.” (Phil 3:17). We are supposed to imitate Christ, but we cannot physically see or hear Jesus. We do not know his body language, his tone of voice, his manner of speaking and acting. We need to see concrete examples of how authentic Christians conduct themselves and interact with others.

Second, be prudent in using God’s resources, entrusted to us as stewards. These are our time, talent and treasure, which actually all belong to God and should be used according to His intent. In the parable of the dishonest steward, “the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.” (Lk 16:8a). Unfortunately, worldly people like astute businessmen and seasoned politicians make prudent use of all these to further their own human interests, but the people of God do not use His resources to further His interests. “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” (Lk 16:8b).

Third, beware of the enemy within. There are very many Christians who, wittingly or unwittingly, act in ways that ally themselves with the enemy. For example,

  • Those who do not like to embrace the cross of Christ and even disdain it. “For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Phil 3:18). As disciples, we are supposed to embrace our crosses daily. But many prefer comfort and convenience, and shun suffering and pain. If they look to the gospel it will be the prosperity gospel. Rather than going out to engage the enemy, they are on permanent R&R, sipping piña coladas at the Country Club. Beware. “Their end is destruction.” (Phil 3:19a).
  • Those who look to satisfaction of the flesh, even to carnal pleasures. “Their God is their stomach” (Phil 3:19b). They are those who focus too much on eating and drinking, on how they look and what to wear, on what they possess. They are defined by their worldly pursuits and earthly possessions.
  • Those who have worldly or earthly ways of thinking. “Their minds are occupied with earthly things.” (Phil 3:19d). They are those who are legalistic, corporate, bureaucratic, political or machiavellian in handling spiritual matters. They think they are great, but they are in reality a shame before God, as “their glory is in their ‘shame.’” (Phil 3:19c).

Fourth, look for those who understand and love the Eucharist, such that if they have the time (or they make time), they go to Mass every day. “I rejoiced when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” (Ps 122:1). They are eager for the grace of Holy Communion. They know they are blessed by the Eucharist.

Fifth, “stand firm in the Lord” (Phil 4:1b). No matter what. No matter the difficulties, the challenges, the disappointments, the betrayals, the oppression, the persecution, the suffering, the pain. Stand your ground in the spiritual war that is raging. Stand in the breach when faith, family and life are assaulted by powerful enemy forces.

Sixth, long for heaven, where we will be with Jesus for all eternity. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil 3:20). We are eager to know how it will be in heaven, how Jesus “will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.” (Phil 3:21). We cannot wait to walk through the pearly gates of heaven, the New Jerusalem. “And now our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem.” (Ps 122:2).

With all the above, each of us can refer to our brethren in community, as “my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown” (Phil 4:1a).

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