Growing in Humility – Philippians 2

Growing in Humility – Philippians 2

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature[f] God, 
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 
rather, he made himself nothing 
    by taking the very nature[g] of a servant, 
    being made in human likeness. 
And being found in appearance as a man, 
    he humbled himself 
    by becoming obedient to death– 
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place 
    and gave him the name that is above every name, 
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
    to the glory of God the Father.”  Philippians 2:1-11 NIV

While the Devil cannot steal your salvation, he can and does labor and fight to steal the joy and assurance of your salvation.  If he cannot cause your faith to waiver through external problems and conflicts, he will desperately try to divide your faith through internal conflicts within the church body.  There are many people who have never come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, but sadly, there are also many people who have drawn close to Jesus through the church, but have abandoned their faith and Jesus’ church because of conflicts they had with others within the church body.  If the Devil cannot rob you of your salvation, he will surely attack your joy and peace, and in turn, try to steal the assurance of your salvation.       

In the previous chapter of Philippians, Paul tells the church how to stand strong against external problems and conflicts.  In Philippians 2, he now turns the attention to how they are to tackle internal conflicts within the church, the Body of Christ.  Philippians 2:1-10 suggests that the church in Philippi faced the problem of disunity within their church fellowship.  Paul speaks to them as to how a divided church is to approach internal struggles and disunity.  Jesus said elsewhere in the scriptures that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.  “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Matthew 12:25 NIV.  Paul knows that a church divided from within will be “ruined” and will “not stand.” 

In Philippians 2:1-11, Paul spells out two mindsets that we must cling to as we grow in the church because he wants believers to bring unity and not division to the body of Christ.

1 – Guard Yourself from Becoming a Self-Centered Christian. 

 

1 – Guard yourself from becoming a self-centered Christian.

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”  Philippians 2:1-4 NIV

Some people within the church, Paul points out, come with a “selfish ambition or vain conceit” – Self-centered Christians will constantly have an attitude that seeks, “How can this benefit me?  What can this church do for me?”  Paul reminds the Philippians that being led by the Spirit it is not only about seeking my own best and my own preferences.  Growing in a Christian community is not about making sure that everyone pleases me.  It is all about learning to value others, comfort others, growing in tenderness and compassion for others, and looking out for the interest of others.  The church is the only organization that exists entirely for those who are not yet a part of it.  Guarding against becoming a self-centered Christian is what helps me to grow more like Jesus.  The more I become like Jesus, the more I become servant-hearted, the more I become servant-hearted, the more I begin to think about others.  The real question I ought to ask is not “What can this church do to benefit me?”  The question that I need to consider is, “As a part of this church, how can I serve others to benefit the Kingdom of God?”   

 

Self-centered Christians might see themselves as more righteous than others and might feel it is their right or privilege tell them how things ought to be.  When God calls us to walk with Him, it is not because of our own righteousness that He calls, but because of His grace.  Self-centered Christians want what they want, when they want it, and how they want it, no matter what the cost to others. 

 

It is important to know that maturity in the faith is not measured by how many Scriptures you can quote, how long you have been attending a certain church, or how many Bible studies you attend.  Maturity in Christ is measured by the development of the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control) in your life and by obedience to Jesus Christ.     

2 – Clothe yourself with the Mind of Christ. 

“5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature[f] God, 
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 
rather, he made himself nothing 
    by taking the very nature[g] of a servant, 
    being made in human likeness. 
And being found in appearance as a man, 
    he humbled himself 
    by becoming obedient to death– 
        even death on a cross!”  Philippians 2:5-8 NIV

To clothing yourself in the mind of Christ means to grow in humility.  Humility does not mean thinking less of myself and putting myself down, it is means thinking more about others and lifting them up.  The Apostle James says of humility to, “humble yourself” (James 4:10).  That is interesting.  There are a number of things that God provides for us.  He paid the price for our salvation.  He supplies for our needs according to His riches.  He has a plan for our welfare.  He empowers us with His Holy Spirit.  But when it comes to having at attitude of humility, He says, “You do that yourself.  You humble yourself.”  It is much better to be granted the opportunity to “humble yourself” than to have God humble you.      

 

Spirit-filled believers are servants at heart.  In a consumer driven society where everything is about what I want, when I want it, how I want it, the Spirit-led believer is one who is willing to lay down his or her rights in order that others may come to know God more deeply and intimately.  Jesus Himself said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  Who are you laying down your rights for so that they may come nearer to Jesus? 

 

When Jesus put others first, that didn’t mean He thought less of Himself. Quite the contrary was true.  Because He knew what His purpose was He knew what He needed to accomplish. 

 

Paul reminds us in these verses that a Spirit-filled, God-centered believer will labor not to bring division to the body of Christ for the purposes of imposing his or her own agendas in the church.  Instead he or she will serve the Lord with a humble heart and an attitude that is considering the needs of others.   

 

Are you growing dissatisfied with your church because it does not “meet your needs?”  Is there any division that you are causing?  Do you feel a sense of entitlement because you have been a part of your church or are familiar with the faith for a long time?  Is there something you need to repent of?  Are you praying more for yourself or for others?  Do you find yourself regularly in prayer for the needs of others or only for your own needs?

 

Increase in me a heart not only to love You Lord, but also to love and pray for those around me.  Increase my heart and capacity to recognize and reach out to those who need to be reached, and increase my heart that I may love others, not for what they can do for me, but rather, because they are simply Your kids.  In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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