This is a 3-part series that I’ve been doing while meditating on the book of Philippians. From the depths of my heart, I hope this blesses you.
When we take a look at the Philippian church, we often have an image of people who are radically on fire for God, actively preaching the gospel and doing the work of God. However, the Philippian church is far from our perfect ideal. In fact, it is suffering (Philippians 1:29. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.), it has quarrels and division (Philippians 4:2. Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. *In Philippi the women were almost of equal standing to men and these two women were not just simple women but rather strong leaders in the church.*), and were under the influence of the doctrine of the perfectionism laws of the Jews (Philippians 3:2. Watch out for those dogs, those people who say you must be circumcised to be saved.).
Under such circumstances, Paul’s answer to them was simple.
Philippians 2:5 (NLT)
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
What attitude did Jesus have?
1. Jesus did not cling on to his achievements
Phil 2:6 (NLT)
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.
Though we are leaders in our own areas, or perhaps influencers in our interests, or maybe we are better at certain things compared to others, do we cling onto these things such that we now pride ourselves on them? Why go around boasting of our own efforts and gifts?
Instead, let’s not be in such a hurry to show off our skills or be quick to correct others in areas of our expertise. Humility is shown in the silent confidence and security that we have in ourselves.
2. Jesus was willing to take the lowest position
Phil 2:5 (NLT)
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born of a human being. When he appeared in human form,
Are we willing to put down our pride, and sometimes take the lowly position, the unglamorous position, doing things that will not give us any form of recognition? Are we willing to sacrifice even if no one is around to see it? Do we boast of our sacrifices?
True humility is the willingness to sacrifice without the need for appreciation or reward.
3. Jesus endured wrongful persecution
Phil 2:6 (NLT)
He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on the cross.
When faced with people who blame us wrongly, are we quick to respond and say “NO! I don’t deserve this!” Or are we able to retain our composure and accept what people are saying to us?
James 1:2-4 (MSG)
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
Our attitude and response towards accusations and criticism is a test to grow in our maturity, patience, and endurance. In the NLT translation it says “Let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
Many times we think being perfect means that we must always be right, which leads us to being extremely uncomfortable, irritated or angry when we are being wronged, thus resulting in our fighting back. However, that’s not how it is in the bible. We are only counted perfect when our endurance is fully developed. Our ability to withstand criticism, accusation and insult is a test of our humility as well.
Christ’s humility is the perfect standard that we should be striving for if we want to adopt the same attitude as Christ in response to our problems in life. Though the Philippian church was in suffering, Paul made it very clear that they must have the attitude of Christ in order to go through the the tribulations. Humility is not simply silence, weakness, or indifference, but a tool more powerful than we think.
The practicality of how to draw strength from humility will be covered in the subsequent parts. 🙂