Philippians 2 Lived Out

. . .In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:5-8

Maureen Smith was a mother, grandma, sister, aunt, friend, and bondservant of Jesus Christ. Selfless to the point of burning out. Busy to the point where even bees were envious. Pouring into others the sweet warmth of Christian companionship, endless encouragement, and limitless love.

Dubbing Maureen—or auntie Moe, as she was known to most children–a social butterfly and a diehard fan of her family would be an understatement, and much too shallow of terms for the depth of relationships she chased down and formed with those she loved. She extended interest, effort, time, and boundless support in subjects she could have cared less about—if it didn’t interest her nieces and nephews. But once she heard it was exciting to them, it was exciting to her too. Whether she was attending Volleyball matches or piano competitions, whether she was cajoled into reading Shakespeare’s soliloquys or trying chocolate doused fruit, she put her whole heart into pursuing others and cheering them on in the front row.

To auntie Moe, I wasn’t just another niece she was content to only see at the occasional family gathering: I was an exceptional individual worth getting to know. My passions were engrossing, my anecdotes worth listening to, my pursuits oh so admirable. She’d text me every time she read an article of mine, asking more about the topic, telling me she learned from it, and always letting me know she was proud of me. Every time.  If I doubted myself, she’d reply with “you never know what God has in store!”

Auntie Moe spent her days sowing love, encouragement, life, motivation—Christ, to every mortal about her. And she did it effortlessly. It was just how she lived. No selfish ambition was involved in spending the day with my siblings and I when our baby brother was in the hospital with our parents. No vain conceit was discernable in visiting a bedridden friend multiple times a week. No interests of her own were pursued in making pizzas with her nieces or playing “spot it” one million times with her younger nephews. She just wanted to love you. Unconditionally. Without a single thought of receiving anything in return.

To me, it’s clear auntie Moe did not live for herself. She was humble in everything, free with all that was given her, and quick to lend an ear, a hand, a day, anything and everything at her disposal to any need of anyone about her. She had Christ, and to her that was everything. How she lived was for Him, in gratitude for how He died for her. In every accomplishment of hers, He received the glory. And she did not keep the joy she found in knowing her Maker to herself. Constantly she urged those about her to get in the Word with her, to be transformed as she was being transformed.

After we’d visit with her, we always felt rejuvenated, encouraged, and warmed by her taking the time to drive all the way to our home and spend her free day with us. Comments along the lines of “aunt Moe’s the bestest” would be heard as her car pulled out the driveway. Wouldn’t you want that to be said about you too? All of us are one day going to shuffle off this mortal coil—as Hamlet says in the soliloquy aunt Moe didn’t like–wouldn’t you want to hear “well done my child” when you do?

I know that my aunt is dancing with the angels before the throne of the Savior right now, but it is so hard not to wish her back here with us. Her shoes are too big to fill, and our hearts now have a piece that is missing. But hearkening to her favorite verses, Proverbs 3:5-6, that if we “trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and in all our ways acknowledge Him,” our hearts will be fully restored one day when we’re reunited up above.

Until then, let us follow in her footsteps: Let us do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, let’s value others above ourselves, not looking to our own interests but each of us to the interests of the others. In our relationships with one another, let’s take on her mindset, the mindset of Christ Jesus.

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