This week Luke Whyte continued our To The Philippians series with a message on humility. Humility is not putting yourself down in order to raise someone else up, it actually has nothing to do with us, but everything to do with Jesus. Throughout the message, we unpacked five attributes of humility:
- 1. Humility values others
- 2. Humility has a Jesus-attitude that influences our actions
- 3. Humility is self-confident
- 4. Humility is meek and servant-hearted
- 5. Humility grows out of obedience
THREE WAYS TO APPLY THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE:
- 1. We walk out in humility when we are confident in who God has called us to be // This week, set aside time every day to ask God what He thinks of you.
- 2. Humility values others above self and serves // Ask God who and how you can be serving in this season.
- 3. Humility has a Jesus-attitude // Ask God how He sees the people around you, and ask God to give you His perspective.
SCRIPTURE FOCUS: Living like Jesus // Philippians 2:1-11
This passage hits a critical point of this book. We are called to grow spiritually. And that growth happens when we walk in unity with other believers. But there is a problem – our own selfishness and divisiveness. Our Western worldview emphasizes the importance of right doctrine, and rightly so, but we often fail to recognize the importance of spiritual unity. In some ways, we consider this to be an optional feature of our walk with God, a bonus feature occasionally included with our faith.
We’d rarely verbalize such a thought but our actions reveal our real perspective. Do we pursue the radical humility and selflessness of Jesus in our relationship with other believers? Or is church just another commodity in our lives, a place to meet our needs? Paul strived so that the Philippian church might endure, he longed for the believers to walk in the fullness of their faith, and he viewed selfless humility as a critical factor in order for this to occur. In other words, if we want to make it, it’s not an option.
Live with Humility (2:1-4)
Verse 1 is a list intended to grab our attention and corresponds to what follows in verse 2, which is a list of heart-felt appeals. These aren’t intended to be academically dissected word-for-word, but rather interpreted as an emotional appeal. The listing adds a relentless feel, pounding in the point.
- 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. Paul was pleading with the church essentially saying, “if you care at all about what God has done in your life.” We need to hear this appeal with the emotion in which it was written: Wake up! This is a really big deal and I’m begging you to pay attention!
- Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. This point is huge. If we want to fully respond to the work of God in our life, then we need to fully contend to walk in love and unity with each other.
So how do we do this? The first two verses grab our attention and highlight the problem. But it’s easier said than done. Of course we all want unity and close relationships – so why does it seldom happen? The next two verses call attention to the problem and then the solution.
Selfish ambition and vain conceit are the central problem. Our sinful nature hard wires us to put our own interests first. We conceptually like the idea of unity, as long as that means other people conform to us. But when this selfishness is revealed, we often are willing to sacrifice unity for the sake of our desires. So how do we walk in the unity describe in verse 2 that is critical to our life in God?
- In humility // Humility is simply a right perspective of self. It’s not self-condemnation (see Romans 8:1) or the degradation of self; instead, it is seeing ourselves as we really are. We are loved, but we are also broken. We are gifted, and we are also flawed. By embracing both our fleshly limitations as well as our new identity in Christ, we can live both confident and humble.
- Value others above yourselves // Our culture preaches self-fulfillment as a central value, as the ultimate goal, as a fundamental human right. The famed psychologist Abraham Maslow taught that self-actualization, the realization of one’s potential, is the pinnacle need of man. We see this philosophy everywhere – the call to pursue your dreams and find your fulfillment, regardless of what it takes. True, our culture’s altruistic humanism also values serving others, but often just as another means of personal fulfillment. Paul presents a radically different mindset – what if life works best when we value others more than ourselves? What if our own desires became secondary? If we want genuine spiritual unity then we need to truly value others.
- Looking to the interests of others above your own interests // Our value for others needs to turn into action. We need to actively look to the interest of others by taking time to notice their needs. And then we need to act on it by serving, by letting go of our own preferences, by giving our time and by helping others succeed, even at our expense.
Can you imagine the impact of living this way? Think of all the minor fights believers have – people leave churches, even split churches, because they aren’t getting their needs met. What if we flipped this upside down? Rather than fighting to meet our own needs, what if our primary passion was to serve others? Fights about carpet color and music style would fade into the background, and perhaps we too would experience a spiritual unity that allows us to overcome any adversity.
Follow the Example of Jesus (2:5-11)
If the emotional appeal of 2:1-4 weren’t enough, Paul lays the ultimate trump card by challenging us to live like Jesus. It would be hard to write a stronger appeal than these verses. Our calling is to have the same mindset of Jesus and no room is given for still living partially for our own fulfillment.
So how did Jesus live? Many scholars believe Paul was citing an early hymn in these next few verses. In doing so, he radically contrasts His humility to our selfishness.
- “Being in very nature God…taking the very nature of a servant.” // Jesus is God; He was the Word of God forming the world at Creation (John 1:1-2). He is the King over all the earth; He could have stepped off the cross and would have been instantly surrounded by thousands of angels. And this King came to earth and embraced the nature, the form, of a servant.
- “Did not consider equality with God something to be used to His advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing.” // We claim our own rights. We pursue our own dreams. We fight for our power. It’s sadly ironic, considering that which we claim is merely a mirage. But compare our angst to Jesus – He actually has all these things! And yet He made Himself nothing. He emptied Himself of these things in order to rescue us.
- “Being found in appearance as man, He humbled Himself.” // Jesus chose to humble Himself by becoming a man. He is fully God and yet chose to also become fully man. In other words, He was willing to empty Himself in order to meet us where we are at.
- “Becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” // Humility is painful. When we start looking to the needs of others we are often taken advantage of and overlooked. If we aren’t careful, that old selfishness rears its head once again. But compared to this we have the example of Jesus. Perfectly innocent. Completely unselfish. And sentenced to a brutal death that He willingly embraced – for us.
Whatever excuse we have, whatever righteous anger we hold to, pales when compared with the example of Jesus. He suffered, He lost everything, He chose humility and faced humiliation. If He did all this for us, surely we can do the same for others. Or put it another way – when we fight for our own interests it is a sign that we have not yet fully understood the sacrifice of Jesus.
The result? Jesus humbled Himself and was exalted to the highest place. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess His lordship. This example is given to us because when we embrace His humility we see the same result. Our selfless living brings glory to God and lifts up the name of Jesus.
There is no greater reward than to invest our few years and meager resources to order to exalt the name of Jesus for all eternity, and it starts as we embrace His example of selfless humility.
By Luke Whyte – Young Adult Pastor