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Wednesdays Word - Philippians 2:1-11 - Imitating Christ’s Humility

We are carrying on with our series on Philippians with the beginning of chapter 2. Now I was very happy when I heard that I would be the one who gets to write about this part of Philippians as it is one of my favourite passages in the Bible. It’s a great reminder of who Jesus is, what he did for us and how we should be like him.

In verses 1-4 Paul writes;

“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. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Paul in this part of the passage is backing up the points that he has already made in chapter 1 about loving one another. But he is also writing here about being one in spirit and of one mind. What does this mean though? To be one in spirit as the Church is to reach a level of intimacy with one another that creates incredible loyalty, love, generosity, selfless service and deep communication. Being of one mind means to agree with one another. The opposite of these things bring pride and disagreements.

These things are damaging to Christian love, especially pride. We read throughout the Bible that pride is never a good thing, in Proverbs 16 we read that “Pride goes before destruction” and in James 4 we read “That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Disagreements can be a dangerous area, but if dealt with healthily they can be worked out for good. If however, we aren’t of “one mind” and disagree with one another this can be destructive and severely harm our relationships with one another. Paul writes that we should be humble and value others above ourselves, how do we do this? Well Paul gives us the perfect example.

Verses 5-11 are a beautiful depiction of who Jesus is and that we should imitate him in our relationships with one another;

“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! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Jesus is the main person we can learn from on how to be humble. In the Easter series we looked at Jesus praying in Gethsemane, he prayed, “yet not as I will, but as You will.” This displays exactly what is meant in verses 6-8 of the Philippians passage in that though he was God, he still humbled himself to God the Father.

For me having the same mindset as Jesus is something that I would love to have, but also feels like a daunting challenge.

There are stories of people throughout the Bible who humble themselves before God and he raises them up to become great leaders. Take Joseph as an example (Genesis 37-50). Joseph was the son of Jacob (or Israel as he is also called), he was loved by his father more than any of his brothers. His brothers got jealous and sold him to the Egyptians. He became Potiphar’s attendant, but then got falsely accused of sleeping with Potiphar’s wife and got thrown in jail. Now this would have been no ordinary prison, this would have been like a modern day maximum security prison. Like the Alcatraz of its day. But throughout all of this, Joseph was faithful to the Lord. Pharaoh had some dreams he wanted an interpretation for and heard of Joseph’s God given gift of interpreting dreams. So he asked Joseph what the dreams meant and Joseph answered. Now Pharaoh realising that the Lord was with Joseph, put him in charge of the land of Egypt. In the space of a day Joseph went from being a prisoner, in a horrible prison, to being put in charge of the land of Egypt because he was faithful to God and humbled himself before him.

These kinds of stories in the Bible encourage me that having the mindset of Jesus isn’t such a daunting challenge. You see, Joseph was showing a Godly humility. He wasn’t prideful in anything, he never groaned about being sold. He never went on to take revenge on his brothers, but actually blessed them with food when they needed it. It’s all about humility. Being humble in front of God first and foremost, then in our relationships with each other.

Throughout the Gospels there are accounts of Jesus associating himself with the people who would have been marginalised in society. People like tax collectors, who would have been disliked by many, prostitutes, lepers and many more. Jesus, being in very nature God, took on the very nature of a servant, and showed us what it means to be humble. How incredible is that. This for me just shows the amazing love that he has for us. It shows how far God would go for his people.

In verse 3 it says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves”. I know that for me personally, I have done things to help others because I thought it would make me look good, not because of the fact that I wanted to serve others and God.

We should have the same mindset as this. Firstly, we should humble ourselves before God, just as Jesus teaches us, but secondly we should ask God where we haven’t humbled ourselves, or been ‘of one spirit and mind’ with others.

A couple of things for you to consider;

  • Where in your life can you be imitating Christ more?

  • Is there anywhere in your life that you have been doing things out of selfish ambition, that you need to humble yourself before God and repent for?

  • Spend some time re-reading this passage and allow space for God to speak to you.

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