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Summary: To be a real success in life, we need to climb down the ladder of success, just as Jesus did when He humbled Himself. (this sermon uses a ladder on the stage)

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Up and Down the Ladder

Philippians 2:1-11

January 20, 2013

(this sermon uses a ladder on stage. This is not an original idea, but I can't recall where I heard of this.)

We’re always trying to get ahead. There's always a ladder to climb (get ladder) and the higher up the ladder we go, the more status we gain.

We rent a one-room apartment with a roommate to share costs. When we get married, we scrape enough money to buy a fixer-upper. Years later, we trade up for a home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Somewhere in the future lies a 3,500 square-foot house or that luxury apartment within a block of the ocean.

Or we make the team; we get in a few games as a sub; then we're first string; we're all conference; we get a scholarship to college; we're All-American; first round draft pick; All-Pro; Hall of Fame.

There's always some ladder to climb; the higher up we go, the more status we have. The status feels good. It makes us feel important. It gets us attention.

We want status. We want to climb the ladder and get to the highest spot—for self-importance, to be thought of as somebody, to have others pay attention to us. It feels good to be looked up to, to be catered to, or to be thought of as special.

But that concern for status is dangerous, because it tends to put "me" first. We become tempted to say, "I'm higher up, so do it my way. I matter more, so please me. I'm more important, so serve my interests."

And if we find that attitude in the church, the result is disastrous, conflict, arguments, and dissension. To save his friends from that, the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, and basically said: Don't be concerned about how far up the ladder you can go. Instead, think about how far down you can come. Your aim is not to climb up, but to climb down — and Christ is our example.

Paul wrote, 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Each of you should care most of all not about yourself, but about others. Then he gives them an example.

Your example is Christ. He went down the ladder for the sake of others. He went to the lowest level possible.

As we live with each other in this church, our model is not someone who ascended the ladder or went from the bottom to the top — the mailroom boy who became CEO, the Grocery clerk who became MVP. As we live with each other and learn how to act toward each other, our model is one who descended the ladder. He went from omnipotence to obscurity, from stardom to slavery, from riches to rags. Our example is Christ. He descended to the lowest level because He loves and cares about us. And that's the attitude we should have toward one another.

In Philippians 2:5, Paul tells us ~ Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.

You see, Paul begins to describe how Christ came down the ladder. Christ started at the highest spot: equality with God. He was equal with God.

(Climb ladder to highest rung) Paul says this about Jesus, 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

He sat on the throne of heaven with the Father. The angels adored him and bowed before Him. In His very nature, He was the same as God. Jesus was and is God. He created the stars and galaxies. He was the one who created the earth, and people to live on it. The Father and Jesus wanted to love us with the same love they have for one another and to share heaven with us.

But when people sinned, their sin brought such sorrow to God, that we were no longer fit to be brought into the glory of heaven. When that happened, Jesus looked at the Father, and He realized that His equality with God wasn’t something to hold onto. He knew His equality with God was something to be used for us. The very nature of God is not to be a getter, but a giver. To be equal with God means to be one who goes and gives. The only way for God to get rid of sin was to send Christ to live with humans and pay their penalty for them.

Only God could do that, only God could live among people and not sin Himself. Only God could live perfectly with us. Only God could live free of the penalty of death, and therefore take our penalty on Himself.

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