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Philippians 2:5-11: Jesus’ Humility for You

Last week, we heard preached in our ears that in His sufferings, Jesus’ righteousness even covers our sufferings, making them holy. Today, we will hear that Jesus is Humility incarnate, Humility in human flesh. And once again, we find that His lowliness is more than an example; it’s a gift through which we find humility for ourselves.

And that’s good, for we don’t have much humility to spare. Today, humility is a scarce commodity. Several generations have now grown up believing the cardinal sin is not pride and arrogance, but low self-esteem. We can tolerate all kinds of problems in our children, but God forbid if they should ever suffer any lack of self-esteem.

When you coddle children so much that they come to believe they are the center of the universe, it shouldn’t surprise us that they grow up and become self-fixated adults. And that’s what has happened: our world has many, many people who pay little attention to the needs of others, much less to the will of God. They worship at the shrine of the unholy trinity: Me, Myself, and I.

But please don’t misunderstand me: This isn’t just a problem for the ungodly. We can’t assume that we’ve escaped this trap ourselves. After all, a steady stream of messages bombards us. We hear that we have an inherent right to be in control, that life should be just the way we want it to be, and that our opinion is the only one that counts. And we Christians don’t walk away from such strong and unrelenting temptations unscathed. For our sinful flesh within us is ever willing to form an alliance with the devil and this fallen world.

We find from the book of Colossians that humility, with kindness and meekness, are Christian virtues (Colossians 3:12). Yet, today, many would consider any one of the three characteristics as a sign of weakness. Lowliness doesn’t go over so well. Our culture tells us to get ahead. We have to promote ourselves. Humility is for wimps!

Not so when we are under God’s rule and reign. To put yourself ahead of God and others aren’t marks of independence and initiative; instead, they reveal the idolatrous heart within us. Jesus tells us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. . . . Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31). That’s the sum total of the Law of God.

And that Law still holds. Philippians 2:3 says: “Don’t do anything because of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Instead, in humility, value others above yourselves.” Yet, most of the time, we don’t live that way. When it comes to humility, we are sadly lacking. Instead of valuing others above ourselves, it’s just the other way around: we consider ourselves most important of all.

This puts our reading for today in a different light. When the apostle writes, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5), he hits us over the head with these two facts. First, our natural mindset is not Christ-like when it comes to humility. What should be is not what is. Second, what we do not have in ourselves, the Holy Spirit gives us through faith in Jesus–the humble attitude of Jesus is one of the gifts He gives to those who love and trust in Him.

When you have Jesus by faith, you also have all His gifts. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,” He said, “and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:28-29a).

Indeed, Jesus’ deep humility confronts us. He never complained of injustice or returned violence for violence. As Isaiah wrote: “Like a lamb led to the slaughter, and like a sheep is silent before its shearers, he did not open His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). That humility of Jesus wasn’t weakness; it was strength. Jesus said, “No one takes my life from me. I give my life of my own free will” (John 10:18).

Jesus is not a helpless victim in His suffering and death. He remained fully in charge throughout the whole ordeal. Oh, it looked as if He suffered defeat when they flogged Him nearly senseless and nailed Him on the cross to die, a beaten and bloody pulp of a man. Yet, Jesus was, and remained, God throughout His torment. For the only way captive humanity could be rescued and released would be if God Himself became the ransom price.

And that’s exactly what happened. St. Paul paints the scene in vivid detail in our text: “Although he existed in the form of God, he did not consider equality with God as something to exploit” (Philippians 2:6). Jesus was, and is, equal with God. He’s the eternal Son of the Father, with whom He has existed from all eternity as One with the Father and the Spirit, three individual persons yet eternally one undivided God.

Jesus was always in the form of God. Yet, when the time came for Him to ransom us, He surrendered His equality with the Father and emptied Himself of His divine glory. He exchanged the form of God for the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.

With two punches, the apostle hits home the deep mystery of the incarnation and the vast wonder of our redemption. One, Jesus takes the form of a slave. Two, He was born in the likeness of men, being found in human form. God of God and Light of Light, true God from all eternity, Jesus Christ is also true man, freely sacrificing His divine majesty to come down here among us, needing food and diapers just like any other infant. Only in that way, could He rescue and save the entire, rebellious world. Now, that’s humility–but that’s not all of Christ’s humility.

Paul continues: “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, death on the cross” (Philippians 2:8). Now, we’ve heard much about the cross in this church that, maybe, some of us have become numb to it. Yet, every faithful Jew who knew his Bible knew that there was a unique horror to the cross. And it wasn’t the gruesome horror and physical agony of nails being driven through human flesh. It was this: Victims of the cross were automatically under God’s wrath. For God clearly warned Israel: “Anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse” (Deuteronomy 21:23).

The lowest point of Jesus’ humiliation was Jesus willingly placing Himself under God the Father’s judgment. Yet, even in this degradation, notice how Jesus was still in complete control. Paul says, “He humbled himself” (Philippians 2:8). The Son of God deliberately and freely chose to give up His divine glory, to empty Himself and come among us as a man. Jesus chose to lower Himself all the way to death, fulfilling the Father’s will to save us. And Jesus suffered no ordinary death, for as He was cursed for us in His death, so He broke the bonds of the curse that held us all prisoner.

Talk about lowly. Not one of us has ever run into such humility as we see in Jesus, who came down so low from His exalted glory in heaven to rescue fallen humanity. Is there anyone here who would go to such great lengths for the benefit of someone else? If you know your own heart, you know the answer is no. Humility may be fine for other people, but the sinful heart just doesn’t want to go there. Who wants to play last fiddle? So everybody around us pays the price.

When our stubborn pride gets in the way, it causes more than enough hurt to go around. No wonder, then, that many of those dearest to us are injured as our lack of humility runs amok. No wonder that many of our friends and family go begging for sympathy and love because our self-inflated ego doesn’t leave them room to breathe.

It’s not an attractive picture. But that’s what happens when selfish pride rules the roost. Lowliness goes out the door. Humility doesn’t even show up for an appearance. That’s when people get hurt. And to make it even worse, we also injure ourselves. For when pride is let loose, it doesn’t just affect others; it also cuts us off from God.

To the walking wounded, then, the message of the lowly Lamb of God comes as healing medicine. For our Lord Jesus walked the lowly, lonely road that led to the cross precisely to remove the injury and hurt that you and I have done in our sinful pride. The death He died on His cross in abject lowliness and humility was our death. The curse He bore in that shameful death was our curse.

In His death, Jesus broke the power of that curse. He ended the warfare between God and mankind. For we have received from the Lord’s own hand double for our sin (Isaiah 40:2). In His blood, Jesus has blotted out the miserable record of our sin and all the hurt and shame of it.

Now, in exchange for the misery of our sin, we receive the life of Christ, the lowly Lamb of God. Baptized into Jesus, we receive His lowliness and humility as a gift. We now live by faith, no longer in ourselves, but in the One who died for us in wretched lowliness and was raised in joyful glory. We have this attitude, this mind, that was first in Christ when He left His Father’s throne, emptying Himself to become a slave, all so we could become made sons of God to reign with Him in glory.

For what you see now is only partial. The life of humility and lowly service we now live is only part of the picture. For now we see only a blurred image as in a dull mirror, but one day we will see God face-to-face and receive our inheritance as part of the saints in light. But first the cross; then the crown!

Our Lord Jesus, the lowly Lamb of God, takes away the sin of the world. He humbled Himself and obeyed His Father’s will all the way to death on the cross. “Therefore, God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend–those in heaven, on earth, and below the earth–and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). Amen.
Your writing is painfully long and there's a lot to address. Show me in scripture where it says Jesus' righteousness makes our sufferings, holy, for one thing, as stated in your first paragraph.

I do love what you said about humility. Especially the part about children. And yes that applies to adults as well. However, the lesson from Philippians 2 5-11, shows us how Jesus set the example of being a good servant, not a slave. That is what he did for us, when he came from heaven. It is consistent with our new nature in Christ. One cannot allow Christ to live through them and not serve him. Only through servanthood can one be obedient to God's call on their life. But we are not slaves to the law, we are free in Christ. We are not slaves to Christ because we chose to follow him because we love him, not because we have to. I have a feeling you copied what you posted from some article. If we are in christ, we are free indeed! Jesus was a slave to no one. He came because he volunteered to come save us and the world.

When you have Jesus by faith, you also have all His gifts.

No, we don't have all the gifts of the Holy spirit. God's Word says that when we get saved, the Holy Spirit distributes our gifts as He sees fit. We are not the ones that choose them.

This is why I stick to the Bible for answers. I'm not even going through all the rest of what you wrote because the doctrine is wrong in some places and I believe we should stick strictly with the Bible for answers. There are too many colts and false authors out there and we know we can't go wrong when we stick with God's Word and not the ones that have been altered these days. Some twist the scripture to mean something completely different and that's wrong and the Bible says people will be cursed, who do that. I feel safe with the King James version. I don't know where you're getting your literature but it does not agree with the Word of God, I'm sorry. I hope you're not following a false teacher.
Yep, and please also note contrary to *ahem* other posts James was not written to rebuke "Pauline" teaching
@Smidke If you mean a dispute over leadership, I don't know. But if you are talking about God breathed doctrine you are wrong.

For your Christian books I suggest reading from publishers like Banner Of Truth or authors like Macarthur and John Piper, RC Sproul, AW Tozer, etc.

You will become more discerning of false teachers.
@Smidke Please provide scripture reference on the argument between Paul and James in the King James version.
@Smidke. You said:
Peter was sent to Rome by James, and likely because Paul was getting ahead of the consensus,

Please provide the scripture where James sent Peter to Rome, because I cannot find that.

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