1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. 7 Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, 8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. 9 For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth— 11 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. — Philippians 2:1-11
by Dick Tunney
If you look up the word “disciple” in the dictionary, you’ll find one of the definitions to be “a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another, a follower.” This should beg two questions—whom are we following, and what are the characteristics (doctrines) of him whom we follow? The text today answers both of these questions with exclamation point after exclamation point.
In Philippians 2, Paul is writing from a Roman prison cell to the church at Philippi, a congregation that he (with others) had planted. It is one of the only New Testament churches that is loosely used as a model for other churches. If we look back into chapter 1, we see that Paul mentions “overseers and deacons” (v.1), which tells us there is a leadership structure in place.
We also see that Paul has good memories of his time with this body. Immediately after his opening greeting, he states, “I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you.” The opening chapter concludes with Paul encouraging Philippian believers to “live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (v.27), and he introduces suffering for Christ (v.29) as a part of the equation of the life these folks will now live.
Paul opens chapter 2 by stringing together several “if, then” ideas with the over-arching theme of unity in the body and sacrificial living among the community of believers. Verses 5-11 emphatically answer the second question, “What are the characteristics of Him whom we follow?” There is much rich gospel theology in these next seven verses, but not enough room in this brief devotion to dig into every verse.
Let’s focus on verse 5: “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus.” Attitude. A friend once told me your circumstances are dictated, but you CHOOSE your attitude. Chuck Swindoll once said, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude is more important than facts, more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do.”
And what exactly was Christ’s “attitude”? He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a servant (v. 7), He humbled himself, and He was obedient to the point of death (v. 8). Selflessness and obedience...the dynamic duo of the humility of Christ Himself. The result is that your sins and mine were cast on Him, and the slate of those who are in Christ is now wiped clean for all eternity. We stand before God Himself with the clean record of another. That, friends, is the best news you’ll hear today!
- This seems an impossible task, to have the same attitude as Jesus Himself. What are the components of your daily encounter with those around you where you KNOW your attitude could be better?
- In what circumstance will you check your own heart to know you’re not considering others more important than yourself?
- Spend some time meditating on verses 5-11. Theologians refer to these verses as the quintessential passage on Christ’s selfless humility in all of Scripture.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.