Please begin with prayer for an open heart, before you read the passage below. Scholars believe that Paul may have adapted a known Christian song at the time into his letter to the church at Philippi, due to the format that he used. Philippians 2:5-11 – 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
As I have gotten older, I have found that one of my favorite qualities in the people I want to be around is humility. We tend to think that humility is thinking poorly of yourself or lacking confidence and I think that’s far from the truth. Some definitions that I like include modest, deference, a spirit of submission, not arrogant or proud. We think that humility and confidence are opposed, but confidence is the basis to be able to be humble.
Proud people (which I frequently display!!) are uncertain of themselves and their worth or status in the eyes of those around them, so they have to continually prove themselves or talk about themselves. Watch---people love to talk about themselves and how awesome they are. Especially when you meet someone new, they will tend to overinflate their job, family, education, abilities, etc. and then we tend to do the same in return. Why is that? It’s because we are uncertain of how we measure up in their eyes and we want to have a favorable position.
This is one of my favorite texts in all of Scripture and it shows the true heart of Jesus---a humble servant. Jesus was in Heaven, next to His Father and gave that up to be born in the worst circumstances (an unwed mother, a family without status, horrible setting, insignificant town of birth and growing up). He gives up His place in Heaven and clothes Himself in humanity and goes through the same temptations, emotions, hungers, etc. that we face. (Hebrews 2 & 4) He associated with the outcasts and known sinners of the community, another mark of humility! He valued women and children before they were seen as valuable, and chose religious rejects to build the church upon. Then, He willingly gave His life for people that have and would reject Him so they could be reconciled to His Father. The cross was the worst and most humiliating form of torture known to the time and you were nailed up there naked as a way to further shame you before your peers. He could have called angels down upon those crucifying Him, but His love, mercy and humility triumphed as He prayed for those murdering Him---simply amazing!
We need to adopt this attitude; because there is no room for pride in the Kingdom of God---‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ (James 4:6) Pride in some ways is an unwillingness or a failure to recognize your need for help or to recognize it, but not ask for help. The journey of the Christ follower begins with an admittance of need and brokenness. It takes humility to recognize our own sin and need for a Savior---a prideful person does not do this. I remember a PhD professor that would come to our church when I was in college and clean the floors and toilets on a weekly basis to remain humble. Maybe we all need to find ways to practice humility and continue to be molded and shaped into Jesus’ example.
The text from Sunday talked about ‘if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ (Matthew 16:24) Following Jesus means that you stop following yourself and you are admitting you don’t know what’s best for you and you can’t save yourself! In humility, you put His desires ahead of your own desires and allow Him to lead you on a daily basis. This flies in the face of the American, do-it-yourself, self-made man/woman, me-centric, Facebook culture that glorifies self-promotion. We are so sufficient on our own that we think we don’t need saving. This culture will poison our hearts and shutdown our receptivity towards the Gospel if we are not careful.
Notice, every other major religion in the world is centered on a person’s performance that makes them right with God. Christianity is the opposite and calls us to turn from our ways and realize we cannot save ourselves, which is a humble plea for help. We receive Jesus and all His grace, which in turn gives us security in identity, so we can live our lives as humble servants and not like those that must continue to pridefully prove who we are. We receive our identity and live confidently, yet humbly.
I pray that we can imitate Christ’s humility in our lives by denying our self, taking up our cross (which means someone else is in charge!!), and following Him as leader.
Are you a humble person? How would you know? (Watch your thoughts and conversations) What caused you to recognize your need for a Savior? What does it mean to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him? I would love to hear your journey and how this passage impacted you.