Title: Following with Joy
The Point: We can live in love and humility even as Christ did.
Get Into the Study
Use the following introduction as an alternate introduction and Question #1.
Recently we, as a nation, celebrated Martin Luther King Day. This was a day of rest and service in honor of a man who helped change the way our nation thinks and responds. Many people posted quotes and pictures on social media, some served their communities, and others were able to rest with friends and family. One well-known quote from him is “The time is always right to do what is right.”
Serving others is a hallmark of Dr. King and one of the things he is most remembered for. Serving allows each of us to find a joy in putting others first and coming together with a common heart and goal, which is one way to follow the example Jesus gave his disciples.
As your group gathers, ask: “When have you served someone around you?” Responses could include serving someone in their family, someone pushed to the margins of society, or someone in need. This could even be a time when they did what was right even if they didn’t want to.
Afterwards, share with your group that today’s study will dive into Philippians 2, a passage that calls believers to follow Christ’s example of love and humility.
Study the Bible
Use the following illustration to supplement your group’s discussion of Philippians 2:4, which says: “Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” This illustration also provides a transition to verses 5-11, which highlight Jesus as our example in a world of compassion fatigue.
Over the past year, there have been more and more thought pieces and articles about a certain term used to express the state of many Americans today: “compassion fatigue.”
According to the Oxford Dictionary, compassion fatigue is an “indifference to charitable appeals on behalf of those who are suffering, experienced as a result of the frequency or number of such appeals.” It means that after months or years of seeing horrible news every time we log into Facebook or watch the news, we can’t do it anymore. We become over-burdened. Our bodies begin to protect us from what’s uncomfortable, and our minds stop allowing us to feel empathy for those who are suffering. This affects people regardless of their stage in life, causing anxiety and depression in many groups — even children.
In fact, according to a recent study, the year 2016 saw “a 35 percent rise in children who have had counseling for anxiety this year, compared to 2014/2015.” As we are exposed to more and more hardship in the world, our anxiety grows; often, our ability to interact with the world in a compassionate way takes the backseat.
As Christians, this phenomenon can be especially troubling. We were called to feel empathy for this world — to be world changers! To bring the lost to Christ! So how do we combat the kind of compassion fatigue that might freeze us up and hinder our work in the Great Commission?
Philippians 2 shows us the key to solving the issue: we have Jesus. As simple as that may seem, how often do we remember it? In Jesus, we have a savior who went out before us, and when we are getting discouraged we can remember that He has already overcome the world! His life is a model for us to turn to whenever we are discouraged. And most importantly, we can rest in the joy and knowledge that no matter how tired or overwhelmed we may get, God never tires of bringing his children back to him, or of restoring the lost.
— Ashley Emmert wrote this Leader Extra. She is a freelance writer and editor who lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her sweet Southern husband and their small scrappy dogs. Find her at ashleygraceemmert.com or on Twitter @ashgemmert.
- What are the greatest threats to unity in any group?
- Who is the most humble person you know?
- What does it mean to be humble?
- How have you been blessed by relationships inside the church?
- When have you felt unified in a common cause with others?
- What do you think is the greatest hurdle to unity in the church?
- Why is humility important for unity?
- If each member of a church only looks after his or her interests, what will be the result?
- How can we follow Christ by actively abandoning positions of privilege and esteem in favor of service to our community and the surrounding “world” in which we live?
- How does this passage challenge us to be more like Jesus?
Share the following with your group members as either a devotional before the group study or as a follow-up devotional:
Here’s a brief five-minute teaching video about this session: Thrive, Session 3.