Today’s reading is drawn from Philippians 2:3-11.
I WOULD BE HARD-PRESSED TO FIND ANY section of Scripture more convicting than this one. Here we read of Jesus’ humble attitude that should shape our view of ourselves and others. It should so transform our thinking that it inhabits all our actions. What difference can humility make? If you’re humble, you stop acting out of selfishness. You curb any conceited habits. You begin to regard others as more important than yourself—really. When you see a need in the life of another, you regard it as greater than a need in your own. Humility of mind cultivates that kind of thinking. It makes you deliberately and consistently look out for others.
I like Eugene Peterson’s rendering of this passage in The Message. It reads, “Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand” (Phil. 2:3-4). Talk about an idea to get across in the family! Kids, parents, relatives, even friends and coworkers and bosses—we’re all in this thing together!
Selfishness is characteristic of our times. Everything is about me and mine. So how do we stop being so selfish? How do we check our tendency toward conceit? How can we begin considering others as more important? Philippians 2:5 offers the answer: “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” What was that attitude? Paul goes on to explain it: Jesus existed in the highest of all esteemed positions, but when it came time for the Incarnation—for Him to become human—He did not demand to keep His exalted position. He did not hang on to the glories of heaven. He voluntarily set aside the independent use of His divine attributes and became human.
Take note of the fact that neither here nor anywhere else in Scripture does it say Christ emptied Himself of His deity. His divine nature is permanent and undiluted, always. Consider this: He who remained above and beyond the power of all created things willfully chose to set aside the divine independence He had enjoyed throughout eternity past. He who created gravity willfully chose to come under the law of gravity. Christ could have continued His divine existence without ever experiencing hunger or death, but He willingly came to the world He had formed, to become a servant, to live as a man, and to die a cruel, humiliating death on a Roman cross. There was no boasting or cry of “I’m above this!”
To light the spark and begin to desire to lay down our own rights and privileges and lift up the rights of others, we must understand the concept of the Cross. Having an attitude of humility requires we understand we are only able to stand before God because of the price Jesus has paid. We draw each breath only as God gives it to us, only because of His abundant grace. How could we even think of being conceited when we realize we owe the very breath we draw to Jesus Christ?
[call out text: How could we even think of being conceited when we realize we owe the very breath we draw to Jesus Christ?]