Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Will You Lay Down Your Rights?

Episode Resources

Download the True Woman Manifesto.

Leslie Basham: When others see humility in you, it makes a powerful statement. Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: That’s what makes us as believers stand out from the rest of this world, from the rest of the culture. That’s what reflects the heart of Christ, when we have a humble heart, when we put Christ’s interests and other’s welfare ahead of our own. Ultimately, that’s how we can point people to Christ.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Forgiveness, for Monday, May 25, 2018.

When Nancy writes a book, do you know she labors over every word? It’s a long, thoughtful process. So it was encouraging to hear how God is using those efforts in South Africa. Angela Temples just returned from there.

Angela Temples: While I was in South Africa, I had to privilege of attending a True Woman 101 Bible study. It wasn’t like in the U.S. where people just fly through the material. The women in South Africa read Nancy’s books sentence by sentence, and they talk about every word! It shows to me the hunger they have to know the truth and to know it deeply.

Nancy: I was so excited when our team members Monica and Angela got back from South Africa not long ago and told us about what the Lord is doing there. After hearing their report and praying and seeking the Lord together as a team, we've made the decision to move forward to hold our first Revive Our Hearts women's conference in South Africa next year. It’s so clear the women there are hundry and eager to hear this message, and we want to follow the Lord's lead and go where He is at work.

Listeners just like you make it possible for the ministry to move forward when these kinds of opportunities present themselves. Without the support of friends like you, there would be no Revive Our Hearts. Here in May, we’re wrapping up ou fiscal year, bringing budgets to a close and getting ready for a new year of ministry. In this crucial time, we’re asking the Lord to provide at least $680,000 to end this fiscal year in a strong position and to be prepared for the opportunities the Lord has for us in the year ahead.

Would you ask the Lord how He’d like to use you to help meet this need at this time? Thank you so much for partnering with us in this way. We are so, so grateful!

Leslie: You can make your donation online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959.

Now, as we start today’s teaching, think about someone you know who displays humility. Aren’t you drawn to that person? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth describes the power of humility, showing you how to make this quality a greater part of your life.

Nancy: Now, we’ve been through a number of foundational statements in the Manifesto about the authority of Scripture and the Lordship of Christ and the fact that God intends for His glory to cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Then we came to a statement in the Manifesto that says,

As Christian women, we desire to honor God by living counter-cultural lives that reflect the beauty of Christ and His gospel to our world.

That’s kind of a mission statement. That’s what this is about. We want to be women who live counter-cultural lives, not for the sake of being cantankerous or ornery—we don’t want to be that—but counter-cultural lives that will reflect to our world the beauty of Christ and His gospel.

Then the Manifesto says, “To that end—with that objective in mind—we affirm that”. . . Then there are thirteen affirmations that follow. We’ve already looked at the first seven of those affirmations, and today we’re going to look at the eighth one.

Now this particular affirmation is radically counter-culture, and, I might add, it’s radically counter to our natural bent and wiring. We do not naturally think this way, and yet this affirmation that we’re going to look at is at the very heart of the gospel. It’s a heart attitude that affects every area of our lives, our relationships, the way we think, the way we act, the way we respond. It’s a crucial heart attitude of a true woman, or I might add, of a true man as well. Here’s the statement:

We affirm that selfish insistence on personal rights is contrary to the Spirit of Christ who humbled Himself, took on the form of a servant, and laid down His life for us.

Now, as I’ve said, that statement, that way of thinking is radically counter-culture. Our culture does not normally value humility. To the contrary, selfishness, self-centeredness, self-seeking is at the very core of our society. We have an entitlement mindset, and you don’t have to look very far to see that.

For example, you’ve read about frivolous lawsuits. I read about one recently, a woman who sued a TV station for making an inaccurate prediction. The station predicted good weather, but it rained. The woman claimed the forecast caused her to dress lightly, resulting in her catching the flu, missing a week of work, and spending money on medication. She further claimed that the whole incident caused her stress, so she sued the station for $1,000 and won—entitlement mindset.

If we have any modern-day mantra, it would be, “You deserve it.” Going back to the old McDonald’s, “You deserve a break today.” It’s been around for a long time.

I did a little Internet search on just that concept—you deserve it—and, oh my goodness, all the things that showed up.

  • There’s a website that’s called YouDeserveItVacations.com.
  • I saw an article entitled, “Getting the Raise You Deserve.”
  • There’s a Tracy Dawn song, “You Deserve to Be Loved.”
  • There’s a book called, You Deserve the Royal Treatment: A Woman’s Guide to Living Royally. It’s a book on Yoga.
  • Then this Dove chocolate wrapper, “You go, girl. You deserve this.”
  • For just $68.25 you can get a nearly ten pound case of Hershey’s chocolate hugs that say, “You deserve a hug.”

There’s this mindset that’s seen in ads, a mindset of rights, of “you deserve it.” Ads that encourage you to indulge yourself, indulge ourselves in everything from chocolates to wine to expensive clothings to posh vacations to day spa packages. Now, I’m not saying that all those things are wrong. Some of those things God gives us to enjoy. But the mindset today is, “Indulge yourself. You deserve it.”

Remember L’Oréal's famous advertising slogan, “Because you’re worth it.”

Then there’s those Gillette Venus shaver ads, “Reveal the goddess in you.”

Then this hanger from the dry cleaners that I picked up out of my closet this morning tells me, “It’s all about you.”

That message is everywhere. You see it in the behavior of those around us—road rage. I was a victim of that at one point. I remember somebody just getting really angry and driving me off the road and up on to an embankment—road rage, anger.

Parents—you see them kicked out of athletic events for nasty attitudes, yelling at the refs.

Sibling rivalry—it’s insisting on rights. “It’s my stuff; my way. It’s my time; it’s my TV show.”

I had a friend who told me recently about her daughter, who really is a sweet girl, but her daughter boxed all of her stuff up and sealed it with duct tape so that no one could touch it all summer while she was gone. “My stuff.”

We’re so indoctrinated, and it’s ingrained in us from birth to believe that we have to defend our rights. “You’ve got to stand up for yourself. If you don’t, nobody will.”

We’re indoctrinated in our culture to believe that we have a right to universal health care, to quality education, to happiness, to have our needs met. We have a right to certain creature comforts. We have a right to have a happy marriage, to have healthy kids, to feel good.

Now all of these things, this entitlement mindset, this rights-crazed thinking, this insistence on “my way; my rights” is contrary to the Spirit of Christ who humbled Himself, who took on the form of a servant and laid down His life for us.

Let me invite you to turn in your Bible to the book of Philippians chapter 2. I can’t think of a better passage in the Scripture, though there are many we could use, I can’t think of a better one than this wonderful passage. It was actually considered a hymn by the early church. The passage found in Philippians chapter 2. I wish we had time to walk through the whole book of Philippians to see this theme, but in Philippians chapter 2, beginning in verse 3, we see this incredible portrait of the heart of Christ.

If we want to see what it means to be true women, or true men, to be true followers of Christ, we need to look at what Christ is like and then ask God, by His grace and the power of His Holy Spirit, to change us into His likeness and into His image.

So the apostle Paul says in verse 3 of Philippians 2, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility"—that’s a key word—humility. That’s the core heart attitude—in humility. What does that look like? "Count others more significant than yourselves." "In humility, count others more significant than yourselves."

If you’re using the New King James Version, yours says, “Let each esteem others better than himself.” Esteem others better than himself. We have so much talk in our day about self-esteem, but God’s Word calls us to esteem others better than ourselves.

The New American Standard Bible says, “Regard one another as more important than yourselves.”

No matter what translation you’re using, no matter how you say it, it runs against the grain of how we’re naturally wired and how we naturally think. "In humility, regard one another as more important than yourselves."

Verse 4, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” We naturally look to our own interests. We don’t have to be told to do that, but we don’t naturally look to the interests of others, especially if they run contrary to our own interests.

So Paul is saying this humility of mind, this humble mindset, counting others more significant than yourselves, will result in your being more concerned about the interests of others than about your own interests, more concerned about their needs than about your own needs. This is the outworking of a humble heart, and it affects everything about how we view ourselves and our interests and how we view others and their interests. It affects how we treat others when their interests collide with ours.

Paul goes on to say this is not a typical way of thinking or living. If you look ahead in chapter 2 to verse 19, Paul says,

I hope . . . to send Timothy to you soon. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. They all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ (vv. 19–20).

Paul says if you have a humble heart, if you put others’ interests ahead of your own, you will be a rare bird. Paul says, “There’s no one like Timothy.” Now Paul had a lot of friends, a lot of colleagues. He knew a lot of believers. There’s a lot of people he could have talked about, but he says, “I have no one like him who will care as much as he does for your welfare. All these other people, they seek their own interests. They’re looking out for themselves. They are number one in their own life. They are not looking out for Christ, and they’re not looking out for others, but Timothy is different. He really cares. He puts Christ’s interests ahead of his own. He cares about your welfare more than he cares about his own.”

If you have that kind of heart, you will be one of a very few, one of a minority. That’s what makes us as believers stand out from the rest of this world, from the rest of the culture. That’s what reflects the heart of Christ, when we have a humble heart, when we put Christ’s interests and others’ welfare ahead of our own. Ultimately, that’s how we can point people to Christ.

And he goes on to say this is what Christ’s life and heart were all about. Back to verse 5, “Have this mind among yourselves which is yours in Christ Jesus.” The New American Standard there, I think, is helpful. It says, “Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus.” That’s the pattern. That’s where we see what this is like.

We wouldn’t have any idea what it looks like to be others-centered if we didn’t have a picture of Christ. If we didn’t know Christ and just knew ourselves and the way we’re born and the way we naturally think and respond and react, it would be all about us. We would be number one.

So Paul says, “Look at Christ. Look at Him. Consider Him. Gaze upon Him. Meditate upon Him. Get to know Him, and then let His mindset, His attitude, let it become your attitude. Become like Him. Let this attitude be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”

Now, what kind of mindset, what kind of attitude did Jesus have? Well, verse 6 tells us: “Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality of God a thing to be grasped.” Another translation there says, “Though He was God, He did not demand and cling to His rights as God.”

There’s no doubt about it. He was God. He is God. But He didn’t cling to His rights. He did not demand His rights.

Verse 7 goes one: “He made Himself nothing.” Some of your translations say,

He made himself [of no reputation], taking the form of a servant [this is God we’re talking about] taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of man, and being found in human form, He humbled Himself [you’re to humble yourself because He humbled Himself] by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (vv. 7–9). 

You see, humility ultimately takes us to a cross. It took Christ to the cross. It means laying down my life, giving up my life, saying “no” to my flesh, saying “yes” to God, saying “no” to self, saying “yes” to the interests and the needs of others.

Jesus was God, but He did not demand or expect others to treat Him like God, and that’s just the problem with us. We want others to treat us as if we were God because we make ourselves into our own gods—little "g." Jesus didn’t do that. He was God, but He didn’t demand others treat Him as God. He relinquished His rights as God.

You just think about that. It’s a mind-boggling thing to think about: The One who is the center of unbroken praise and adoration in heaven, and had been for all of eternity and will be for all of eternity future, that One made Himself of no reputation. The One who holds all the bodies of the water in the world in the palm of His hand was thirsty. The all-powerful God clothed Himself in human weakness. The Creator of life laid down His life so that we could live.

It’s topsy-turvy from the way the world thinks. It’s topsy-turvy from the way we naturally think, but it’s right-side up in God’s economy, in God’s kingdom. This is the way that God thinks, and this is the way as true women that we need to learn to think.

Years ago I came across a wonderful piece in a newsletter from Elisabeth Elliot; some of you remember that newsletter. She wrote an article called “Laying Down Our Rights.” She talked about how it’s natural in our society today for people to claim their rights. But she said in this piece that as followers of Christ, we’re called to surrender our rights to Christ and to enjoy just the privileges that God sovereignly decides to bestow upon us.

Then she gave us a list. She said, “What are some of the rights that Jesus’ disciples must surrender?” I want to read through that list to you. There are actually Scripture references next to each of these points, and if you’ll go to our website, ReviveOurHearts.com and look at today’s transcript, you’ll see this list with each of the Scripture references. It will be worth your time to look up these references.

What are some of the rights that as Jesus’ disciples we need to be willing to surrender? Here’s the list that Elisabeth Elliot came up with:

  • First is the right to take revenge (Rom. 12:19–20).
  • The right to have a comfortable, secure home. Jesus said, “The birds of the air have nests, the foxes have holes, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Luke 9:57–58). The right to have a comfortable, secure home. It’s a right we surrender to Christ.
  • The right to spend our money however we please (Matt. 6:19–21).
  • The right to hate an enemy (Matt. 5:43–48). We're asked to surrender that right.
  • The right to be honored and served (Mark 10:42–47).
  • The right to understand God’s plan before we obey (Heb. 11:8). 
  • The right to live life by our own rules (John 14:23–24).
  • The right to hold a grudge (Col. 3:13).
  • The right to fit into society (Rom. 12:2; Gal. 1:10).
  • The right to do whatever feels good (Gal. 5:16–17; 1 Peter 4:2).
  • The right to complain. "Ooo. I can’t have the right to complain? " No. That’s a right you’re to give up. By the way, you find that in Philippians 2, verse 14: "Do all things without complaining or murmuring.”
  • The right to put self first. (That’s the passage we’ve been looking in, Phil. 2:3–4).
  • The right to express one’s sexuality in ways that are contrary to the ways of God (1 Cor. 6:18–20).
  • The right to rebel against authority (1 Peter 2:13–15).
  • The right to sue another believer (1 Cor. 6:1–8).
  • The right to end a disappointing marriage (Matt. 5:31–32).

There’s more we could say about all those, but just a sample list from God’s Word of rights that we’re asked to surrender as followers of Christ.

Now, the rubber meets the road as we flesh this out in the context of everyday life, the people we live with, the people we work with, our closest relationships in the home, in the work place, in our communities. Sometimes it’s in the little things, in the little ways that we’re called upon to put others’ interests ahead of our own, to esteem others as better than ourselves.

I read on the True Woman blog a comment a woman wrote not too long ago. She said,

It’s taken me a long time and some hard roads to understand the importance of this truth in my marriage. A practical way that I’ve begun to live this out is to surrender my morning schedule and fix my husband’s breakfast and be mindful of his needs before he leaves for work.

I struggled with this for a long time because I wanted my time with the Lord to be uninterrupted and concentrated. While that’s a good goal, it isn’t a good thing if I ignore my husband in the morning. God has so blessed since I decided to "esteem others (my husband) better than myself" in this way.

Now, does that mean you have to get up and fix your husband breakfast in the morning? I can’t tell you what time to get up in the morning. I don’t know what’s required of you. But I do know that in the practical, everyday ways of life, God calls us to look at the interests of others and put them ahead of our own and become servant-hearted followers of Christ.

There’s been a number of circumstances in my life, as we all have in our lives, and they seemed to compound themselves in recent weeks. I found myself feeling uptight and out of sorts and easily irritated. You could just tell this was going on; there was a churning inside, and you’re just trying to keep it from coming out. Like, “I hope I don’t bite anybody’s head off.” Oh how we need His grace in those times.

In the midst of that season, I woke up one morning and heard a message on the radio by Warren Wiersbe—a message from a long time ago—but he was speaking to Christian leaders. He was looking at this passage we’ve been looking at, Philippians chapter 2. He talked so beautifully about how Christ humbled Himself and took on the form of a bondservant.

Then he got real personal and a little convicting—a lot convicting. He challenged those of us who are leaders, which we all are in different spheres of influence, to come down off our thrones as Christ did and to stop acting as sovereigns and instead become servants.

As I listened to his message, my heart was so convicted. Let me just read to you a paragraph of what I wrote out in my journal that morning as I was applying what I had just heard on this passage to my circumstances at this moment. I wrote:

I have been thinking and acting as a sovereign whose will and way are to prevail or "off with your head." Everybody bow to "Queen Nancy" and make her happy. When I feel those "rights" and expectations have been violated or unfulfilled, I have become petulant, peevish, and impossible to please.

Forgive me, Lord; have mercy on me. You came with a towel on bended knee to serve Your creatures. So You have called me to love and serve my fellow servants.

It was a sweet thing that morning to see the Lord just give me a heart adjustment, an attitude adjustment, and to settle that churning that was going on inside and show me the issue is I’ve been claiming rights, selfish insistence on personal rights.

What God was wanting me to do was to use those circumstances to show me my need to take on the Spirit of Christ.

Now, I know this point raises a lot of questions by way of application. Let me just say quickly that we are not saying, and the Scripture doesn’t say that in every circumstance you are to just meekly stand there and take whatever abuse others may heap on you. There are other principles in Scripture that provide a means of recourse, appeal, and help when that is needed.

So we have to take this principle in balance with other principles of God’s Word, but I think many of us need to be pulled back to this principle. It’s the heart of the gospel that Christ humbled Himself; He took on Him the form of a servant, and He laid down His life for us.

To live out the gospel as a true woman, or a true man for that matter, is to have the mind of Christ. It’s to lay down our rights, to esteem others as better than ourselves, to consider their interests before our own—to pick up a towel and serve.

When we do, what happens? Well, number one, and most important, Christ is magnified. People see Christ.

I want to tell you something else that will happen: God will do a far better job than we possibly could of defending and vindicating us and meeting our needs in the process.

Leslie: Wow. We all need the kind of heart adjustments Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been describing.

Today’s program is part of a series called, "The True Woman Manifesto: Affirmations, Part 3." If you missed any of today's message, or any of the Manifesto series, you can hear it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Life is extremely valuable. That may sound pretty basic, but when you hear Nancy describe it Monday, you’ll realize that it’s very profound. Protecting life, next time on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nandy DeMoss Wolgemuth celebrates life! It is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

 

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