Summary: In order to follow the example of Christ’s humility, we must be willing to lay down our rights and reputation for the sake of the gospel. We must humble ourselves and serve others as a bondservant of Christ. If we say, we follow Christ; do we really live
Opening illustration: At the 2009 Kansas high school state track championship, an unusual thing happened. The team that won the girls 3,200-meter relay was disqualified. But what happened next was even more unusual. The team that was awarded the state championship by default turned right around and gave their medals to the team that had been disqualified.
The first school, St. Mary’s Colgan, lost first place because judges ruled that a runner had stepped out of her lane as she handed off the baton. That meant the second team, Maranatha Academy, moved up to first. After receiving their medals, the girls from Maranatha saw the downtrodden looks on the faces of the St. Mary’s girls, so they gave them their individual medals.
Why did they do this? As Maranatha’s coach Bernie Zarda put it: “Our theme for the year was to run not for our glory, but for God’s glory.” As a result of the girls’ action, their story was told throughout Kansas, and God’s name was lifted up.
Let us turn to Philippians 2 and check out the choices Christ made and the results that followed.
Introduction: It would be true to state that in many ways this is the greatest and the most moving passage that Paul ever wrote about Jesus. The example of our Lord Jesus Christ is set before us. We must resemble him in his life, if we would have the benefit of his death. Notice the two natures of Christ; his Divine nature, and human nature. Who being in the form of God, partaking the Divine nature, as the eternal and only-begotten Son of God, John 1: 1, had not thought it a robbery to be equal with God, and to receive Divine worship from men. His human nature; herein he became like us in all things except sin. Thus low, of his own will, he stooped from the glory he had with the Father before the world was. Christ’s two states, of humiliation and exaltation, are noticed. Christ not only took upon him the likeness and fashion, or form of a man, but of one in a low state; not appearing in splendor. His whole life was a life of poverty and suffering. But the lowest step was his dying the death of the cross, the death of a malefactor and a slave; exposed to public hatred and scorn. The exaltation was of Christ’s human nature, in union with the Divine. At the name of Jesus, not the mere sound of the word, but the authority of Jesus, all should pay solemn homage. It is to the glory of God the Father, to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; for it is his will, that all men should honor the Son as they honor the Father, John 5: 23. Here we see such motives to self-denying love as nothing else can supply. Do we thus love and obey the Son of God?
(A) What did Christ choose?
1. Selfish OR Selfless (vs. 4, 5)
That is, be not selfish. Do not let your care and attention be wholly absorbed by your own concerns, or by the concerns of your own family. Evince a tender interest for the happiness of the whole, and let the welfare of others lie near your hearts. This, of course, does not mean that there is to be any improper interference in the business of others, or that we are to have the character of “busy-bodies in other people’s matters” but that we are to regard with appropriate solicitude the welfare of others, and to strive to do them good. It is the duty of every man to do this. No one is at liberty to live for himself or to disregard the needs of others. The object of this rule is to break up the narrow spirit of selfishness, and to produce a benevolent regard for the happiness of others.
Often people excuse selfishness, pride or evil by claiming their rights. They think, ‘I can cheat on this test; after all I deserve to pass this class,’ or ‘ I can spend all this money on myself – I worked hard for it, ‘ or ‘I can get an abortion; I have a right to control my own body.’ But as believers, we should have a different attitude, one that enables us to lay aside our rights in order to serve others. If we say, we follow Christ; do we really live it selflessly?
The object of this reference to the example of the Savior is particularly to enforce the duty of humility. This was the highest example which could be furnished, and it would illustrate and confirm all the apostle had said of this virtue. The principle in the case is that we are to make the Lord Jesus our model, and are in all respects to frame our lives, as far as possible, in accordance with this great example. The point here is, that he left a state of inexpressible glory, and took upon him the most humble form of humanity, and performed the lowliest offices, that he might benefit us.