In part one, The Most Important Thing (Philippians 1:12-18) we learned that Paul was single minded. This mind is not moved or rattled by adverse circumstances of life. This mind enjoys peace and remains focused on Christ’s last command, to make disciples. Part two will explore what it means to have a humble mind and how that promotes unity in the church and facilitates Christ mandate to make disciples.
Philippians 2:1-4, “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
The Call to Humility
Jesus said in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He was talking about those who are humble. Proverbs 3:34 says, “Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 quotes Proverbs 3:34 and says, “But He gives more grace. Therefore he says, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Peter also quotes Proverbs 3:34 in 1 Peter 5:6. Humility is important; for without it you cannot be saved and you cannot advance in the Christian life. Humility promotes harmony in the home and in the church.
To summarize what Paul says in Philippians 2:3-4, “… in lowliness (humility) of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out… for the interests of others.” Why is this important? Because without humility there can be no unity (Philippians 2:1-2); without unity there is no harmony and the work of Christ suffers. The purpose for which God saved us is impeded. Remember God saved us to serve (Ephesians 2:8-10), to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8) to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), and to glorify Him (1 Corinthians 10:31).
And when we humble ourselves, we demonstrate the submissive mind which puts God first, others second, and ourselves last. You see, the person with the submissive mind:
- Thinks of others, not himself/herself.
- Glorifies God.
God calls us to a life of submission. We are to submit to God, to our spiritual leaders and to our civil authorities. Wives are to submit to their husbands, children to their parents and workers to their bosses. And the only reason we can submit is because we are clothed in humility. Remember humility results in unity and unity enables the work of God, advancing the kingdom of God as we proclaim the gospel. In the last part of chapter two, Paul gives the Philippians three examples of humility.
The Example of Christ
Paul uses the Lord Jesus Christ as the best example of humility (Philippians 2:5-11). The Bible teaches that Christ humbled Himself by becoming a man. Hebrews 2:14 says, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same.” The Hebrew writer is saying that Jesus, Who is God, became human. This is the doctrine of the Incarnation. John 1:14 says, “The Word was made flesh.” Now Paul teaches the Philippian believers about humility through one of the great Christological statements of the New Testament. This passage, along with John one, Colossians one, and Hebrews one, teaches the foundational Christian doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ. Paul wanted the Philippian believers to understand that humility is key to accomplishing the will of God. Christ humbled Himself, became a man, that He might die on the cross to provide salvation for all who will call upon the name of the Lord. Because Jesus willingly humbled Himself-God exalted Him (read verses 9-11). God says through Peter (1 Peter 5:6), “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:12, “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.” Friends, Christ humbled Himself, we need to humble ourselves. Matthew 23:12 says, “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The Example of Timothy & Epaphroditus
Paul ends the chapter describing two more examples of humility, Timothy (19-24) and Epaphroditus (25-30). Both men willingly served Paul and the church. My question to you is, are you willing to humble yourself and serve? God wants men and women, young and old, who will humble themselves and serve, willingly submitting themselves to God and their spiritual leaders (Pastors and Elders, Ephesians 4:11-16).
Friends, God is calling us to humble ourselves. This takes a submissive mind. It takes the mind of Christ. Remember the example of Jesus, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God…humbled himself and became obedient to death…even the death of the cross… to the glory of God the Father.” With this mind, Jesus did the will of God; with this mind you and I can do the will of God. Jesus received God’s approval, and we can receive God’s approval as we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.