How to Make Every Relationship Better


Did you know that a car engine has 14,000 parts that work together to make a car run? 14,000! As expensive and complex as an engine is, without oil—an extremely simple and inexpensive thing—an engine will lock up and die because of heat and friction. Similar to a car engine without oil, relationships are prone to friction and damage. In order to keep unity and not damage relationships, we need humility. Humility is the oil to healthy relationships.

Jonathan PokludaNov 11, 2018Philippians 2:1-2; Philippians 2:3-4; James 1:19; Philippians 2:5; John 13:12-17; Psalms 133:1-2


Did you know that a car engine has 14,000 parts that work together to make a car run? 14,000! As expensive and complex as an engine is, without oil—an extremely simple and inexpensive thing—an engine will lock up and die because of heat and friction. Similar to a car engine without oil, relationships are prone to friction and damage. In order to keep unity and not damage relationships, we need humility. Humility is the oil to healthy relationships.

Key Takeaways

Overlook your differences

  • We are constantly teaming up based on similarities and differences…us vs. them. We use divisive words. This will kill—and is killing—the church.
  • Relationship and Communication 101: Find common ground with others.
  • If you are talking to another Christian, when differences arise, starting by asking, “God, is that you?”
  • As Christians, we have the same Father—we are family.

Intentionally take interest

  • If humility is like oil, selfish ambition is like sand…it increases the friction and damage.
  • Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less. Really, it’s thinking of others more.
  • When something is interesting, it pulls you in.
  • When you are talking to someone, is your mind thinking about what they can do for you? Are you positioning yourself? Do you have a favorite story you can’t wait to tell? Are you trying to talk before they are finished? James 1:19 says be quick to listen and slow to speak…is that true of you?
  • How do you intentionally take interest in others? Do whatever you would want your kids to do.

Look to Christ

  • Can you imagine what it would have been like to be wrongly arrested, whipped, flogged, and spit on? Spit in your face? Christ experienced all of that…and took it. He is our example.
  • The less humility someone else brings into a relationship, the more you have to bring.
  • On earth, our humility is messy and our motives are often mixed.
  • True humility doesn’t seek to benefit in any way. It just gives.
  • You can’t make yourself humble, but you are humbled when you are near greatness: Grand Canyon, mountains, a lion…none of these—in all their greatness—compare to Jesus!

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

Who is the unreasonable, very difficult relationship in your life? Once you’ve identified one person:

  • How can you “pour oil” on that relationship?
  • What common ground do you have with what person?
  • What’s one way you can take interest in that person?

After spending time honestly answering the three questions above, initiate a conversation or meeting with that person and spend some time with them in the next seven days.

How are we doing, Watermark? Did anybody bring their Bibles? Isn't it amazing that we can come in this place and celebrate all that God is doing for us and sing songs of worship to him and freely carry this into this place? I was just thinking… I woke up this morning overwhelmed with gratitude for those who have fought for that freedom, our veterans.

Can we thank our military, those who have gone before us? Sometimes we'd have you stand, but today we want to stand for you, because we know you've stood for us. We do appreciate you. You know who you are. Thank you for what you've done so we can freely gather like this today in freedom.

I'm excited about the message. We are back in Philippians. We're going to start in chapter 2. I don't know. I want to start with this question. Have you ever had to deal with a really unreasonable person? That's the laughter of familiarity. I don't know who comes to mind, what situation comes to mind, maybe one this week. I had maybe the most unreasonable person dealing I've ever had this past week.

I was selling a vehicle online. This is something I do. It's kind of a hobby. You fish or hunt or crochet or whatever it is you do. I sell vehicles. It's my side hustle, if you will. I'd just gotten this car, and this guy called me. He wanted this car. I told him I had just gotten this car, and he was asking me a lot of questions I didn't know the answers to. I kind of told him the story, and it was clear he really wanted it, because for four days consecutively he texted me every day.

He was from the other side of Abilene, about three and a half hours away. He said, "Hey, I need you to come meet me." I said, "Well, I understand you need that, but I can't. I'm really busy this week. We're hosting a mini-conference here. I cannot come and meet you. If you want to get this vehicle, you will have to come here to Dallas." He said, "Okay. Well, could you have it shipped here?" I said, "I can look into that for you if you'd like."

Then he was like, "Hey, did you find somebody? Did you find somebody? Did you find somebody? Did you find somebody?" I was like, "I haven't yet. You're welcome to look too." Then on Tuesday he calls and says, "Hey, I'm going to wake up tomorrow and come and get it Wednesday morning." I said, "Well, here's the problem with that. I have a full-time job, and I don't know that I'm going to be able to meet you to show you the car."

We're talking. We're working it out, and he's like, "Well, can you figure something out?" I said, "You know what? I will have a tight hour at lunch. I could meet you at 11:30. If you could be there at 11:30 I can meet you there and we can do that really quickly, but it's going to be tight." He just kind of blew that off a little bit. I said, "Hey, a heads-up. Before 11:30 I'm on a conference call, so if you need anything I won't be able to answer the phone from 11:00 to 11:30."

Well, while I'm on that conference call, 11:00 to 11:30, he called me six times. So I call him back. He is on the other end of the phone even more exasperated, and I hear the GPS in the background. "Recalculating. Recalculating." He's like, "I don't know where we are." A lot of curse words. A lot of profanity. He's like, "You're going to have to come and meet us." I said, "Remember? I told you I had a tight hour. I don't know where you are either."

I said, "Can you tell me what you see?" He's like, "I see buildings." I'm like, "Okay, I need more. Like, names on buildings, address numbers, streets, highways…anything would be helpful." He goes, "Well, how the heck am I supposed to know where I am?" I'm like, "Maybe you could walk in somewhere and ask them where you are." I said, "Can you drop a pin?" He said, "What the heck is a pin?"

So I'm in this conversation. He's mad at me, like I took all of the traffic and set it here in Dallas. "It's not my fault that you're lost." So we're having this conversation. He said, "Well, you're going to have to come and meet me," and I said, "Okay. For me to come and meet you you're going to have to know where you are." So he calls me back. He says, "Okay, I'm at a Shell."

"Do you know which Shell?"

"Well, how am I supposed to know?"

"Maybe you could walk in the Shell and ask them, 'Hey, what is your address?'"

He's with his wife. They're pulling a trailer for the car. His wife goes in and asks where they are. They call me back with the address. We see it's about 15 minutes away. I'm looking at the time. I don't have time for this. I'm literally supposed to be speaking at a conference in a few minutes. So I'm on the phone like, "Y'all are going to have to stall because I'm dealing with an unreasonable person."

So I go and meet him. They're following me, and I'm talking to the wife on the phone. He's cursing me the entire way from the gas station to my house. She's like, "Honey, he's on the phone." "I don't give a…" I'm just upset, because I'm like, "What did I do? I'm doing everything I can to help you." I get there. I'm like, "Here's the car. Did you bring the money? You're going to have to…"

He goes, "No, you're not going anywhere. You have to help me load it up on the trailer." "You got it, buddy. You got it." Then I'm like, "All right. I really have to go, like, an hour ago." He goes, "Well, you need to fix my GPS. Something is wrong with it." He just keeps telling me what I need to do. I thought, "I'm going to fix your GPS so that I don't ever see you again." I didn't say it because I'm a Christian, but I thought it.

So I send him on his way. I get back. I try to gather myself to go back to this conference we're hosting, and I'm just flustered. I'm just dealing with an unreasonable person, a relationship with a lot of friction. The next day my phone rings and I see it's his number, and I'm just like that. I'm like, "Oh man. I thought we agreed to break up." I'm thinking, "Oh, maybe he's calling to apologize. Probably not."


"Hey, let me ask you a question."

"Okay. Yes, sir."

"When is the last time you changed the oil in this car?"

"Sir, I told you I just got that car. Remember? I told you I've only had it for a week and a half. I've never even checked the oil."

"Because there's not any in it!"

That's what he tells me. When he says that my heart just sinks, because it kind of justified all his frustrations, I feel like. I'm like, "Oh no. I don't want to be a part of that narrative," because I've read some things about oil in vehicles. Evidently it's important. In fact, I texted my friend Gary who owns a mechanic shop, and he's telling me, "Yeah, that's really, really important. In fact, I've seen many vehicles come in completely ruined because they don't have oil."

In fact, I went on Google and asked, "How important is oil in a car?" and I'm going to tell you what Google said. It reads like this: "When a car runs out of oil, friction between the piston and the cylinder causes extreme heat, causing further cylinder wear. At the critical point, the pistons get so hot they actually melt into its cylinders and lock up.

Unfortunately, all pistons are hard-joined to crankshafts and the engine's momentum is too high to stall immediately, as other cylinders are still making explosions and generating power. The crankshaft usually disjoints from the piston and damages the engine by breaking a hole in it, turning the engine to junk." It literally says "turning the engine to junk."

Now think about this for a moment. Think about how valuable a vehicle is, the most valuable part of the vehicle being the engine, and all of these parts within the engine working together. There are 14,000 parts in an engine working together, and you think about this one critical additive, this one critical ingredient to make that engine work. It's oil. It's inexpensive but extremely necessary. It's the one piece that if you don't have it turns to junk. It gets heated and there's friction and there are explosions. There's breakdown, there's seizing, and it stops. Dysfunction.

The good news in our situation is the vehicle ended up being fine. It was okay. We were able to add oil to it. As I thought about our relationship and our interaction, that's what we needed. We needed something to remove the friction in that dysfunctional interaction, in the unreasonableness I sensed from him. As you think through your relationships, that's what you need: something to remove the friction.

Every one of you has difficult relationships. It may be your marriage. It may be an unreasonable neighbor. It may be your boss. It may be a coworker. It may be your in-laws. Who is it for you? I want you to think. Don't elbow or point, but think. Who is that unreasonable, very difficult relationship in your life? Is it a relative? It's that person you're afraid is going to get heated. Sometimes when you're talking with them it breaks down. There's friction.

It may be your Community Group or it may be that couple in your Community Group that always wants to meet at their house no matter what. They're like, "Hey, can you guys come to our house today?" Or that one that never shows up or that one that continues to trip over those same problems no matter what you say. It doesn't seem like they're listening. Who is the difficult relationship for you?

I want to talk today from the Scriptures, Philippians 2, about an additive that if you add into that relationship will remove friction. That necessary ingredient is humility. The Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul is going to talk to us about how humility brings unity, how there is no unity without humility, how humility is the necessary ingredient to bring about unity in any relationship. So we're looking at this text, looking at how to remove friction in relationships with humility.

As we move through Philippians 2:1-5, we're going to look at how to pursue unity with humility by overlooking your differences, by intentionally taking interest, and by looking to Christ. Those three things from this text. Let me remind you that Paul started this church. He loved this church in Philippi. He started it with three people: a demon-possessed girl, a wealthy fashionista, and a military veteran.

You can imagine the differences between those three and how unity would have been difficult, how it would be possible for disagreements to exist. So he's writing to address disagreements today. There's something going on in this church that he loves dearly where people aren't getting along, and he's like, "You have to get along. This is important. To be Christ's body you have to get along." He pens this around AD 62 from a Roman prison. He writes a letter to the church in Philippi, and we read it today. Verse 1:

"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind."

You read that and it's almost like some flowery language you skip over. It's like all of these things, but what you see in here is a very compelling if-then statement. "If you do this, if you have this, if you do this, if you do this, then you must…" "I'm trying to compel you." This is Paul trying to be as persuasive as he possibly can be. In fact, here would be my simplified version of this verse. This is the new "JP version."

"If you've benefited from Jesus, if you have the Holy Spirit, if you are kind…" This would be so that people would be nodding their heads. "Oh, we have the Holy Spirit. Oh yeah, we've benefited from Jesus. Oh yeah, we're believers." "Then do me a solid favor and get along. Be unified." There's some sort of infighting going on in the church.

We see this even more so in Philippians, chapter 4, where he calls out two people directly. In verse 2 he says, "I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord." That's what we see here. Have the same mindset of Jesus. He repeats this idea. Being like-minded, of one mind, one spirit. Look toward unity. So, to pursue unity with humility, to remove friction, we need to…

1._ Overlook our differences_. What Paul is saying here is focus on what you have in common. There are so many things you have in common. You have the same Spirit. You have the mind of Christ. You have the same love that God has given you for people. These are the things you have in common. Can you overlook your differences? Right now, more than any other time I can remember, we are teaming up based on what we have in common to focus on the differences of others.

We're always trying to find out who we are with Myers-Briggs or DiSC or StrengthsFinder or Enneagram, whether you're a Lion, Otter, or Beaver, to say, "Hey, this is me and you're different than me." Remember two weeks ago we talked about two kinds of people? There's Whataburger and In-N-Out. Remember that? Two kinds of people who say how you pronounce GIF. There are two kinds of people. I kept that pretty tame. Right?

I didn't go, "There are two kinds of people: those who like Baylor and those who like TCU" or "There are those who like A&M and those who like UT." I didn't go, "There are Republicans and Democrats." Ruh-roh. I didn't say, "Hey, how do you feel about Donald Trump?" Because these are the things you go on social media… We are all about teaming up and division. We use divisive words. It's constantly "us/them" right now in our culture. Paul is going to show us this is poison. Division kills the church. So, you overlook your differences by focusing on what you agree on.

Before I went into vocational ministry, before I was employed by the church I was in sales. I went through several different sales training programs. All of them started with the same idea. Whenever you meet with a customer, before you talk about your product, before you begin your presentation, you find common ground. This is sales 101. You find something you have in common with them and talk about that. It is sales 101. But can I tell you something? It is relationship 101. It is communication 101.

If you're constantly thinking of someone and focusing on how you're different, you are going to unknowingly drive a wedge between you and them. Can you think about what you have in common? If you're both Christians, you have God's Holy Spirit in common, so start there. This is the idea that saved my marriage. I've been married 14 years to an amazing, beautiful woman who is very, very different than I.

I'm an extrovert; she's a homebody. I love to go and do. I stay at 30,000 feet in vision. I'm spontaneous; she loves a plan. She always wants the details. There are a thousand differences I could list. I'm 6'7" tall; she's 5'3". I'm male; she's female. There are a lot of differences between us. In the first two years of marriage it was like we were playing tug-of-war. "You come my way. You come my way." We were trying to change each other. More me than her. I was trying to change her into the wife I thought I wanted.

One day, through God's grace working through community and his Word, I received the advice, "You know, you have the same Holy Spirit, so when she brings something to you, you don't have to invalidate it. Your first step can be, 'God, is that you?' Even if you think it's a ridiculous idea, even if it's something you disagree with, you can say, 'God, is that you?' because she has your Holy Spirit." She's a voice of reason in my life. She's not wrong; we're just different.

Do you know what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives? He's making both of us like Christ, which is to make both of us over time, through sanctification, similar. I can trust that process. When I learned I could trust that process, everything in my marriage changed. This doesn't just apply to marriages. You can apply this to any relationship with any believer. Do I trust God's Holy Spirit at work in them? Instead of focusing on our differences, can I build a relationship on what we have in common? When you begin to do that, everything will change.

So humility that leads to unity overlooks differences. This removes friction like oil. He says in verse 3, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit." What can we do out of selfish ambition? Say it with me so I know you're listening. What can we do out of selfish ambition? Oh, you guys don't know. Well, let me read it to you again. "Do nothing…" Let me ask it. What can we do out of selfish ambition? Nothing.

That's one of those texts you read, like, "Do not worry about anything." "All right. I'll give that my best shot." "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit." How? How? Here's how: "Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests…" Stop looking to your own interests all the time. "…but each of you to the interests of the others."

Do nothing out of selfish ambition. Kenodoxia is the Greek word. Vain conceit. It translates directly to a word we don't use often. You see it in the King James Version: vainglory. Self-glory, for your own glory, you trying to be king. You have to stop doing that if you want to appear to be a Christ follower. Even sometimes we're humble for our own glory.

So if humility is like oil you put in a relationship, selfishness is like sand. It only adds to the friction. You going into that conversation, into that relationship thinking about you is only going to create friction. So to remove friction and pursue unity…

2._ Intentionally take interest in anyone but you_. You've heard it said that humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. Have you heard that? Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. It's thinking of others more. That's biblical humility: thinking more of others, putting them first, elevating them above yourself, taking an interest in them, which is hard.

At the end of Philippians 1 you see a word: striving. "Striving for unity," as though to say it's very difficult. It's going to require work on your part, to work hard for unity so that you would elevate them, take interest in them. They say this was true about Billy Graham. When Billy Graham passed away, a journalist wrote an article about one of their interactions with him. They said they had 30 minutes in a greenroom with Billy Graham, and they were so excited for all of the questions they were going to ask and the article they were going to write.

Billy Graham came into the room full of energy, bright smile, and sat down and began to pepper them with questions. "Where are you from? How long have you been married? Tell me about your kids. Oh, what are they interested in? Where do you live? How long have you done this? Why did you get into this? Tell me more about how you love… What's your favorite thing?"

He said he got so wrapped up in answering his questions the entire 30 minutes had gone by and he didn't get a single question in, but he had everything he needed for his article because he had sat with a truly humble person. That humble person made him feel like royalty. Billy Graham had taken such an interest in this journalist they got lost in talking about themselves. He's professional. This is someone who knows better but was just wrapped up by the humility of another individual.

This is what Paul is calling us to. You think about when something is interesting, whether it's art or a movie, dancing, a display, or anything you might find interesting. It pulls you in. You get absorbed in it. He's saying work toward being pulled into those you're seeking to have a relationship with. No matter how you feel about them, no matter how different you are, take an interest in them.

Think about what you do with that person you thought of up front. When you're talking with them, is your mind racing around? They're talking, but you're having other conversations in your head. Or maybe you're driving down the road having conversations with them in your head. Maybe you're having arguments with them when they're not even present, continuing to build a case. You can't wait.

When they're talking you can't wait to drop your brilliant bomb on them. Like, they're saying something, "Wah, wah, wah," but what you're going to say is going to blow their mind. You can't wait to tell them and show them how smart you are. They're talking, and you're interrupting. You can't wait. Before they're done with a sentence you're already starting another one. Do you think about what they can do for you?

When you look at people, do you treat them all the same or are you guilty of favoritism? Because of your job, because of what you've done, because of the way you think, you look at people and think, "How can I use them for my benefit?" That's the opposite of what he's saying. "How can I use them to benefit my life?" Or in the brief interaction we have how can I serve them and consider them more valuable than my life? Value others above yourself.

James 1:19 says, "Be quick to listen and slow to speak." He says to take your interest and put it on them, which is going to take some intentionality, but everybody does this. I had a birthday this week. When they know it's your birthday and they come up to you, they start the conversation by celebrating you, like, "I have something I want to talk to you about, but Happy Birthday." But you don't need a day to celebrate somebody.

Let me go one more with you. This afternoon my family and I are going to go to a wedding. You've all been to weddings. Right? You know how it is when the bride comes in the back. The doors open, and everybody is to their feet, and everybody turns to them. As they walk down this aisle, we do that slow turn where our eyes are glued to them. We're just watching them. It is all about them. You know that person walking down the aisle.

Today it's a girl I work with. Wednesday I saw her in the cube farm, but today when she walks in all of a sudden she's Princess Diana. We're on our feet and we're looking and we're paying her honor. Her boss' boss' boss' boss will be there on their feet, paying her honor, because it's her day, it's her moment. We all know how to do this. You all can play that mind game with yourself when someone comes in. "Okay, what would it be like for me to treat them like royalty?"

It's sad that we have to play that mind game, but would I treat them differently? If they could change my life, if they could do something really important for me, if they were extremely wealthy or very powerful, would I treat them differently? Treat them like that. That's what he's saying. Work toward intentionally taking an interest in them, because do you know what we have in common? Our Father. God.

If you're a parent, you may have a slight advantage in this text. He's saying, "Hey, I want you to do for each other what you want your children to do for each other." Think about how honored you are if your daughter walks in there to your son and says, "Hey, would you please forgive me? I was a little short with you this morning when you were pouring the Cheerios and you spilled them all over the place and Mom wanted me to clean them up. Would you forgive me? I was a little short." As a parent, wouldn't your heart just fill with pride? Like, "Yes!"

What you wouldn't do is, "Oh no, no, no! That wasn't your fault. You don't need to ask for forgiveness." Just sit back. "That's amazing." Just do what you would want your children to do in relationships, because it's God's children we're talking about. If you want to upset me, hurt my child or drive down the road and talk poorly about my child or just think negative thoughts about my child as you're driving down the road if you want to hurt me. Think about how you're going to win in an argument with my child.

Likewise, if you want to honor me, if you want my favor, do something well for my children. One of my daughters got baptized, and a friend of our family's bought… They hardly know my daughter at all, but they bought her the most intentional gift. It was five handwritten letters, and each of the five letters had a gift that coincided with something my daughter loves. She loves animals, so there were tickets to the zoo.

She loves ice cream, so there was a gift card to get ice cream. There was a gift she's supposed to give to someone else and share the gospel with them. Just the intentionality. Verses, a picture of her baptism, a frame with a verse on it. It was such an intentional gift. As we sat around our island and read these letters to my little girl, my wife and I both were sobbing, weeping, just moved.

When I got to the end of that, I'm like, "I would do anything for that person," the person who gave this gift to my little girl. I'm like, "If she ever needs a place to live, she's moving in with us. We got her. If she ever needs a kidney, I have two. One is hers. It's done." That's just how I felt. I'll do anything for her because of the way she loved my child. God is saying, "Hey, children, get along. Love each other. Take interest in each other."

Think about that lazy coworker who always talks about how busy they are or maybe it's your in-laws who want to coach you up, constantly give you some advice, tell you what you're doing wrong, or maybe it's that Community Group member who's just difficult. How can you apply this to that relationship, pour oil on that relationship, remove friction from that relationship? Humility that leads to unity intentionally takes interest.

Verse 5: "In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…" Next week is going to be an amazing passage that is really central to this letter Paul wrote. Right now he teases that with "Hey, if you want to get along, look to Jesus as your example." Is there a greater example of humility than Jesus Christ? When God, the one who created the heavens and the earth, put on flesh, not taking off deity but putting on humanity, came here and humbled himself like a servant for you.

3._ Look to Christ._ If Christ is our example, could you imagine what it was like to stand in front of Herod with his crown and his throne who thinks he's powerful or to stand in front of Pilate, and Pilate is saying, "Don't you understand that I control your destiny?" Jesus is calmly like, "You have no authority except that which my Father has entrusted to you."

To stand in front of people who are whipping him and beating him and putting crowns on his head and having the ability, as God, to be able to squish them like a beetle. They spit in his face. Can you think of something more disgraceful or disrespectful than someone coming up to you and spitting on your face? You think about someone who you have complete authority over walking up to you and spitting in your face and him taking that.

Yet we feel so entitled to respect and so entitled to justice and so entitled for everyone to hear our side of the story and so entitled to being right. Paul says, "I want you to have the same mind as Jesus." Is that clear enough for you? In your relationships Jesus is your example. If you're not doing what Jesus did, you're not there yet. You don't have the same mind of Christ yet. He's not done with you.

I will tell you that in all relationships the ideal is if you bring some humility and they bring some humility. The mistake we make is "Well, if they're not bringing humility, then I'm not bringing humility. If they just bring a little bit, then I'm just bringing a little bit." No, no, no. It's the opposite. If they're not bringing it, you have to bring enough for both of you. If they're just bringing a little bit of humility, you need to bring a whole lot.

That's having the same mindset of Christ. You're going to have to work harder than your fair share. Jesus, our example. He put up with his numbskull disciples. And what did he do for them? He washed their feet, like when they would wear sandals and walk through animal excrement. You have God taking off his robe and washing their feet. We think, "What an amazing example of Jesus. I'm so glad he did that. Surely he doesn't want me to do that." John 13:

"When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. 'Do you understand what I have done for you?' he asked them. 'You call me "Teacher" and "Lord," and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.'"

That almost sounds like Jesus expects that of us. That's crazy. Has anybody ever washed somebody's feet? I did once. It was kind of a magic moment in Haiti. I was walking through this village. There was a guy there washing his clothes, and I sensed the Lord wanted me to wash his feet. I'm like, "I don't want to do that, God. That's going to be awkward. How is that going to go down?" It was kind of this magic moment, because this guy is playing this flute in the background. In fact, just watch this for a moment.


That's not super humble of me to show you that. A little awkward. Here's why I do: because even our humility here on earth is messy. As I go to do that, thinking that it's obedient, I know everybody there is watching me, thinking, "Oh man, what a great leader." I know there's a guy with a camera right there. I see him. I'm thinking, "Maybe I can use this as a sermon illustration one day." Today is the day.

It's so messy that there's even ego in our humility, yet he's calling us to do something to honor others when they can do nothing for us in return. We're not looking for fairness or even justice but we're bringing grace to the equation as Christ does. The most discouraging thing is you can't make yourself humble. That's why: because your motives are so mixed. If you left here and were like, "I want to make myself humble," you wouldn't even be doing that for the right reasons, but you can be humbled.

The way you're humbled is you stand next to greatness. It's the way I felt when my wife and I this past year visited the Grand Canyon. I stood at the edge and looked at this chasm that was so huge, this ginormous hole in the ground painted with beauty. I yelled out, and my voice disappeared into the open space, and I felt so small. I was humbled. It's what you feel if you're in Colorado and see a fourteener disappearing into the clouds, a monument, a statue, if you will, created by God, and you feel so small.

I can remember being next to a lion with no fence in between us and seeing with every step he took all of the muscles flex in his shoulder and his legs, thinking he could turn and at will devour me in a moment, and I felt so small. None of these compare to the magnitude of the one who created the heavens and the earth, who spoke that lion into existence with words, who formed you in your mother's womb, who created all of the people who ever lived and will live.

If you want to bring humility to a relationship, you start every day by looking to Jesus, spending intentional time with him. People in my life know if I've spent time with Christ or not that particular day. Every single morning when I wake up I have these prayer cards, and on one of them is a verse in Ephesians that starts out, "Be completely humble." If I don't pray that, I will be completely prideful. I will be given to arrogance. I will hurt people.

I have to start with Jesus, saying, "You're God and I'm not. I'm small, and you're huge, bigger than anything I can imagine." So, to remove friction from relationships, the oil you add is humility. The way you add humility to relationships is by overlooking your differences, by intentionally taking interest, and by looking to Christ. To help you remember that it's O-I-L (oil). Overlook your differences, intentionally take interest, and look to Christ.

It says in Psalm 133, "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!" This is what Paul is after. "It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down on the collar of his robe." In biblical times they wouldn't put oil in vehicles; they would use oil to refresh their own body. It's something they would put on when their muscles were sore, like getting a massage. It was refreshing. He says this is what it's like to dwell together in unity.

As I drove down the road on Thursday I was thinking about that man, and I had been in this text. The Holy Spirit is just messing with me. He's like, "You know, it seemed like you didn't honor me in that interaction." So I called him. I didn't want to. In my flesh I didn't feel like I had anything to own, but I called him. He said, "Hello?"

"Hey, it's me. You know, you bought the car. Hey, I just wanted to tell you, when you were here I was really rushed. I had somewhere else I needed to be, and I'm afraid I didn't represent the God I worship in that interaction with you. I didn't have the same mindset of Christ. I was acting out of my frustration and the stress of feeling like I needed to be somewhere else. Will you please forgive me?" He laughed.

At first I thought he was scoffing at me, but everything changed in that moment. I could feel him smiling through the phone. He said, "It would give me great joy to extend grace to you." He's a brother. He said, "You know what? I don't go to the city often, never if I can avoid it, so it was really stressful for me too. I know I took that out on you, and I'm really sorry."

I hung up that phone, and I felt refreshed. Going into the call I was like, "I do not want to do this," but coming out of it it was like, "You know what? I just feel clean, renewed." Thanksgiving is around the corner. You're going to have a lot of opportunity to apply this message, to bring oil into relationships. Let me pray that you would.

Father, thank you for this incredible text. Father, thank you for your example of Jesus Christ. Thank you for the ways you love us and the things you call us to, and even though they're hard, things like you ask us to do nothing out of selfish ambition, which is really a giant question of our motive, but in humility to consider those you've created around us more important than ourselves…God, we're really going to need your help for that one. Would you help us to bring oil into relationships and to remove friction? As we stand amazed at your Son Jesus Christ, help us to be humbled. It is in his name, amen.

About 'Philippians'

Todd & JP walk us through the entire book of Philippians, a love letter from a pastor to his congregation.