“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality of God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. Therefore, God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)
How elusive is this word! Especially to us, depraved human beings. The moment we speak of our own humility we lose it and pride comes to the surface. How can we define it? How do we know, if indeed we can know, that we have this quality in us? Over and over we are reminded to be humble, especially before God (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6) How can we heed and obey if we do not know what it is? Many times, it is easier for us to define humility (or holiness for that matter) by what it is not and describe it by what it is like. It is the opposite of pride; it is not being arrogant or boastful; it is not about me, us or ourselves. It is like being meek, gentle, subservient, and others oriented. All these are true but these are only bits and pieces of what it is.
As I reflect upon this word, I find it fully demonstrated by Jesus and perfected in the gospel in the words of Paul written in Philippians 2:5-11. He starts off by saying “Have this mind among yourselves, which is also yours in Christ Jesus.” First of all, I don’t think, he meant only our intellect (though it is a big part of it) but our heart, attitude, our inner being, and spirit as well. Second, this character can only be ours because we are “in Christ” - because we belong to God through faith in Christ’s finished work and the Spirit’s daily renewal of us. At least 3 observations come to my mind as I read this passage. I’m sure you will find more.
1. Jesus’ act of submission.
He submitted to the Father’s plan and will by becoming fully man. He willingly left heaven’s throne and came down to this fallen world to be like you and me. He subjected himself to be like us in the flesh, experiencing our temptations and tiredness, mourning and misery, harassment and heartaches. It was the Father’s plan before the foundation of this world. He humbled himself. He obeyed even to the point of death on the cross. He began and finished the work that the Father had planned in total submission. Humility was perfectly defined and demonstrated.
2. Jesus’ act of suffering.
There is a cost to everything and suffering is the cost of humility. Jesus knew all of what his mission on earth entails – that he would be the prophesied suffering servant (Isaiah 53), that he would physically suffer in body, rejection, pain, and die the most gruesome death. All of this was part of the plan. Jesus counted and paid the cost of humility, and he pleased the Father indeed! (Matt. 3:17)
3. Jesus’ act of strength.
Humility is not for the weak and weary but for the strong and secure. This strength was drawn from his secure relationship with the Father. He showed strength in undergoing and enduring the agonizing death by crucifixion. He knew exactly what was to come yet he says, “Not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Are we submitted to the Father’s will? Are we willing to suffer and lay down our rights for the sake of the gospel and for the glory of Christ? Are we strong because His Spirit dwells in us because He is our Father? Let us set our eyes on Jesus, “who humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.”
(Marisa and Vic)