During Lent, we turn to the importance of humility. This is not a common word in our 21st century world. If it is brought up, it is never in a positive context. It is quite the opposite in the Bible. Scripture frequently talks about the need to be humble, and Christ was the greatest example of humility and servanthood.
1. Recognize the Context:
Paul wrote this letter to the church in Philippi from prison. In chapter 1, he informed them that his current imprisonment had helped advance the gospel. He encouraged the Philippians to live “worthy of the gospel of Christ” (1:27). In the immediate context, this included enduring hardship and persecution, as well as loving one another. In chapter 2, he developed the concept of selfless humility, and he presented Jesus Christ as the model.
2. Read the Scripture: Philippians 2:5-8
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
3. Reflect on the Scripture:
In verse 6, Paul stated that Christ Jesus was the very nature of God. He was speaking of Christ’s pre-existent state from all eternity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. In his very essence, he was God. But Christ did not simply use his equality with God, his inherent “position,” to his own advantage as did the powerful rulers of society in the first century A.D.
Rather, Christ “made himself nothing” or “emptied himself.” This does not mean he gave up his divine nature. Instead, he set aside the glory that was rightfully his as God and humbled himself by taking on the limitation of humanity. In doing this, he took on the nature of a servant (verse 7). The beginning of verse 8 is a restatement of Christ’s humanity and humility. But it carries these realities further. His humanity and humility led to his obedience, and this ended in death, specifically death on a cross.
This form of execution was especially torturous and humiliating (Hebrews 12:2). People were often crucified at the scene of a crime or in a well visible location to deter others. With this in mind, crucifixion was the method of execution for guilty criminals. This is why Paul could say in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 that the message of the cross was a stumbling block for Jews because they thought anyone crucified was cursed by God (Deuteronomy 21:33, Galatians 3:13). For the Gentiles it was foolishness. No king would suffer such a heinous death and still be considered a king. But Paul stated the cross was the power of God and the wisdom of God.
The life of Jesus, from incarnation to crucifixion, was beyond our human understanding. His humble birth, life, and death led to his ultimate exaltation (Phil. 2:9-11).
4. Relate to life:
Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
Today reflect on God becoming human. In light of Philippians 2:5-8, what does this passage reveal about the character of Christ?
What difference does a consideration of his humanity and humility make in your life?
Prayerfully consider how you can have the mindset of Christ when it comes to humility and service.
To do: (With the Holy Sprit's help)
How can you reflect a biblical humility to your friends, co-workers, family and church community? Think specifically of a person and a way you can serve them today.
To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the given passage.)
Read and Study the verses above. Use a concordance or a website like biblegateway.com and search other verses , humility (humble).