We're going to be looking at the incarnation of the Son of God from Philippians chapter 2, Philippians chapter 2. And I know that’s not where the Christmas story is, but that’s where the theology of the Christmas story is, Philippians chapter 2. Now while you’re turning to chapter 2, I will just briefly remind you that we have been looking at the subject of unity, unity - all the way back into chapter 1, verse 27: the Holy Spirit, through the apostle Paul, calls us to be “standing firm in spirit, one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
We are, as believers, called to unity, called to be one. We have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, one Savior. This is the foundation of our unity. We are to demonstrate to the world that we are one, that we are marked by love, and love is the product of selfless humility. We are called to humility all throughout Scripture. Humility may be the noblest of all virtues, for out of it springs love and all other deeds of sacrifice and mercy.
We’re talking about unity because it’s a very important issue. As I’ve been saying the last couple of weeks, I have never seen a time when the disunity and hostility and even hatred on the part of Christians has been so played out in front of the whole world. You can thank the Internet for that, social media. There have always been issues of conflict in the church through the years, but they usually were confined to the church. Now those kinds of things are available for the whole world to see as Christians with bitterness and rancor and hostility, and even the desire to force people into certain actions because they want reparations or they want to be paid back for something that happened to them in the past. An attitude of vengeance and retaliation marks many who profess to be Christians, and this is a tragedy because it diminishes the glory of the gospel and brings dishonor to our Lord. So we’re trying to look at how important unity is, and no passage is more powerful in considering that than the one we come to today, chapter 2 of Philippians.
Let me read you the opening of this chapter; and I’ll translate it the way we showed you it could be translated last week: “Therefore because there is encouragement in Christ, because there is consolation of love, because there is fellowship of the Spirit, because there is affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” This is the humiliation of Jesus Christ.
As I stand before this passage again for the second time this morning, I confess to you that this is a very daunting responsibility. This is very deep. This is majestic in every sense. It is overwhelming and unfathomable, and I feel that no matter what I say it will fall far short of what this text is worthy of. I can only commend the text to you to read repeatedly and allow the Spirit of God to enrich these concepts beyond what I might be able to say to you today.
It describes the condescension of the second person of the Trinity into human incarnation. That is the very main point of the Christian religion, that God became man. In fact, these words are so majestic that they appear to have been an early church hymn, perhaps penned by Paul before he wrote this letter; or perhaps it became a hymn from him writing it to the Philippians. No other passage is as complete and detailed in its presentation of the great miracle of God becoming man. In fact, as you flow through this text, the descending of Christ from heaven to earth is given in a series of steps that are explicit. It is as if the Spirit of God wants you to follow the drama at a pace that sort of builds and mounts so that you can understand what Christ did. This is a Christological diamond, unparalleled. Obviously, it is about the incarnation. In that sense, it is theological. It is soteriological. It has to do with the incarnation, which has to do with salvation.
But Paul’s motives in these words in stunning ways are not really theological. He’s not writing this for its own sake, he’s not writing the theology of the incarnation just so that we would know the doctrine. His purpose is really ethical. His purpose is ethical. This is pastoral in its intent. These verses present the truth that the Son of God came to earth as a man to save sinners through His death and resurrection; and then as we’ll see in the next passage, He was exalted again back to heaven. That in itself is the heart and soul of Christian theology. But the main point here is not to identify Jesus in His saving work, but to identify Jesus as a model of humility, a model of self-denying, self-giving, humble love.
And that becomes obvious as you look at verse 5: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” What attitude is he talking about? The attitude that he began to speak of in verse 3: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also the interests of others.”
Now the point here is unity, “having the same mind,” verse 2, “maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” In order for that to be a reality, nothing that we do can be selfish, nothing that we do can be to fulfill our own egos. We are to be marked by humility, regarding others as more important than ourselves, and being concerned about the interests of others more than our own. That is the point. Now the illustration of that is Jesus Christ, starting in verse 5. So Paul is looking at the incarnation, not for its theological importance, but for its ethical significance. Here is the perfect model of the kind of selfless condescension, the kind of humility that produces the unity that is desired in verses 1 and 2.
The fact is this: that in our Christian lives we mark out Christ as our Savior, and we look at His work on the cross as redemption, as providing for us forgiveness of sin, justification, and everything attached to it, all the way to glorification. But Paul is going further than that, beyond that and saying what Christ did is not only a redeeming work, it is an exemplary work of self-giving humility. That’s the point. It’s a pattern for us to follow. This is important for you to understand. This is such a critical area of Christian life and experience that there is no human illustration of humility that is sufficient to describe for us and demonstrate for us the kind of humility the Lord expects. Any human illustration would fall short.
Yes, Paul does say, “Be followers of me as I am of Christ,” but Paul wasn’t humble enough to be the ultimate model. The ultimate model had to be the Lord Jesus Christ. This is how critical this entire issue is to the Holy Spirit, to heaven itself as conveyed by the apostle Paul. Our humility should be a copy as much as is within our power of the condescension of the Son of God Himself. You may think you have to stoop too far, to humble yourself too far, to sacrifice what is important to you and what you want for the sake of others. You have no idea of what a deep, profound, vast, incomprehensible sacrifice really looks like until you look at what Christ did. This is the standard of humility. Anything less than this falls short of the model.
Now we all know that when our Lord came into the world, He came humbly. He was born in a stable. He was born and laid in a manger, a feeding trough for animals, that He lived in a very nondescript town called Nazareth of a very common family of no particular note. We also know that His life was an expression of that kind of humility. He said He had nowhere to lay His head. He basically was born in a borrowed bed. He lived His ministry life out, sleeping wherever He could with His disciples, spending many nights in the outdoors, many of them on the Mount of Olives.
Our Lord had no home; He had basically the clothes on His back; He had a ragtag bunch of followers. This is part of His humiliation. This is now the second person of the Trinity, the King of glory, King of kings, the One who is the head over all things, the Son of God. He said, “The birds have nests, Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” When He arrived at His coronation in John chapter 12, He came into the city not riding on a white horse, which would have appeared to be more messianic, but rather riding not even on a donkey, but on the colt of a donkey, a symbol of His humiliation.
In the next chapter, the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest, John chapter 13, and none of them were going to stoop to wash each other’s feet; and that was the job of a slave, but there was no slave there that night because they had met clandestinely so the Jews couldn’t find them. So the Lord takes off His outer garment, wraps a towel around Himself and washes the disciples’ feet, the lowest task of the low, and says that, “What I’ve done to you is what I want you to do for each other.” He says, “The servant is not greater than his lord. If you’ve seen Me do this, you need to do this as well.”
In Luke 22 there was a dispute among them about which of them was to be the greatest, a rather common thing they talked about. And He said, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so with you; but let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I’m among you as one who serves.” The greatest one is the one who reclines at the table, the lowly one is the one who serves. He said, “I came not to recline at the table and be served, but to serve.” “The Son of Man has not come to be served, but to serve, and give His life a ransom for many.”
In Matthew 23, He says, “Don’t be called Rabbi, there’s only one Teacher. Don’t be called Father; you have one Father who’s in heaven. Don’t become called a leader, there’s one Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled; and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Through His life He made this crystal clear that He had come to humble Himself. He is the model of humility. We saw more of that last time, but we’re going to look at it in a profound way today in this passage before us.
Now we can’t copy Christ’s condescension because we have never been that high. We didn’t start where He started, so the descent isn’t nearly as far or dramatic. We can’t copy His deity; we don’t possess that. We can’t emulate His perfection or His redemptive power or work, but we can copy His selfless humility.
Now verse 5 is the transition from the exhortations of verses 1 to 4 to the illustration of verses 6 to 8. Verse 5 is the transition: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” That is to say, we are to be marked by unselfishness, humility of mind that regards others more important than ourselves, and the interests of others more significant than our own interests. It is this kind of humbling that manifests itself in love and sacrifice, and makes the church bring glory and honor to its head, the Lord Jesus.
Anytime that the church fails to manifest humility, it does damage to its Lord. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father over all. Everything about us is one. We are one body; we are members of one body. We are to live out that unity by emptying ourselves of selfishness and empty conceit, and replacing that with humility of mind. Now in order to make this powerful and profound truth unforgettable, Paul takes the descent of Christ step by step by step. Let’s follow what he says.
Here is the humility of Christ. First, verse 6, this is where he starts: “who, although He existed in the form of God.” That is to say He is God - deity, divinity, the eternal God. This emphasizes the point from which His humiliation begins. He is by nature in the form of God, fully God, truly God. He always has been, He always will be. So He starts from the vantage point of deity. He is God. He is the Creator, nothing was made without Him. That is what John 1 says; that is what Colossians 1 says; that is what Hebrews 1 says - that He is the Creator; He is the exact representation of God; He is God. So he starts much higher than we, and goes much lower.
As Christians, we have been exalted. “We are a chosen people,” 1 Peter, “chosen by God,” beloved by God, anointed by God, justified, being sanctified, glorified, promised eternal blessing. We are kings and priests, sons and daughters; we share the exalted position. We are the temple of the living God, the Spirit of God. We begin our humiliation from there, from there.
But even with all of those privileges, which are ours by mercy and grace, we certainly are still sinful. So we don’t start from where our Lord starts. He existed in the morphē of God. “Existed” is a word used to express the continuance of a condition. He existed, present active participle. That is a stated fact. In His case, He existed eternally. It’s not the common Greek word for “being,” but describes that which a person is in his very essential nature, which cannot be altered and cannot be changed. This is that which he possesses that is essential to his being. It describes that part of a person which no matter what may change around him remains the same.
His unalterable being was in the form of God. What do we mean by “form”? Well, it’s that word morphē, and it always signifies a form which is truly and fully the being of the person. It’s not an external pattern, and I’ll show you a contrast that’ll help you with that.
There are two Greek words that are translated “form” in the New Testament. One is morphē, and the other is schēma, from which we get the word “scheme” or “schematic.” They both can be translated “form,” but they have two different meanings. Morphē is the essential nature of something, schēma is the appearance of it. Morphē never changes, schēma changes a lot. I’ll give you a simple illustration.
I’m a man. I know that’s a pejorative statement in this culture, but it’s a fact. I’m a man. I have always been a man. I have been a man since I was conceived in my mother’s womb. But that’s my morphē. I am a man. That does not change. That is my essential being. However, the schēma has changed. Once I was a fetus, and then I was an infant, and then I was a child, and then I was a teenager, and then I was a young adult, then I was an adult, and then I became whatever I am now at this particular point. I don’t know if it has a label. I think that the label is, “My, you’re doing well,” because people are shocked you’re still vertical.
So the schēma changes, but the morphē does not. And the morphē of God is that essential nature as God which cannot change. So He is in the form of God, morphē, He never changes; schēma, continually changes. God can appear as light. God can appear as fire. God can appear in thunder. God appeared in human form. His outward schēma could be altered; His inward morphē can never change.
He has always been God by nature. His is the Creator God, and He basically claimed always to be God, and that is why the Jews hated Him, and that is why they desired to kill Him, because He claimed to be God. And for them that was blasphemy. They said to Him basically, “You blaspheme because You say You are equal to God.” It just happened to be the truth. He was God; He always will be God. So that’s where He starts, in the form of God.
The second step then, “He did not regard,” – that is, “He did not consider” – “that equality with God a thing to be grasped.” The first move toward the incarnation was in His mind, in His divine consciousness. “He did not regard that equality with God.” And by the way, He existed in the form of God, then “did not regard equality with God” means that the form of God and equality with God are two ways to say the same thing. “He did not consider equality with God,” literally “being equal with God.” The term here is isos, isos. That is something that is exactly equal in number, size, or quality. We get “isonomer” from it, “isosceles.” “So He did not regard the form of God” – which means He was equal to God – “something to hold on to, something to grasp.” In fact, that verb “grasp” has the idea of robbery, of clutching something that you have taken and prized and embraced and held tightly and will not let it go.
So He existed as God. What does that mean? In the form of God. It says in the next line, “He was equal with God, but He did not hold tightly to that equality.” This is where His incarnation starts in His own divine mind. He will not cling to all that is His as the second person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God. He will not cling to all of that. The incarnation then began with unselfishness; it began with the willingness to be humbled.
Then the third step comes in verse 7: “but emptied Himself.” This is profound, and somewhat confusing to some people, apparently. He “emptied Himself.” He “emptied Himself.” It says, “but emptied Himself.” Not this, but this. Profound introduction to the fact of the self-emptying. The verb is kenō from which theologians get “kenosis.” They talk about the incarnation as the kenosis, the self-emptying of the Son of God.
He emptied Himself of those things which were His by virtue of being God. This is the self-emptying of the Son of God. It’s a very magnificent expression, a very graphic expression of the completeness of His self-renunciation and refusal to cling to the things that were rightly His. Now listen, He didn’t empty of His deity, or He would have ceased to exist. And since He is the eternal God, He cannot cease to exist. And since He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, nothing in His nature was altered. He didn’t become less than God so that He became half God and half man or any other kind of concoction. When it says “He emptied Himself,” it did not remove one single iota of His divinity, or His deity. He did not exchange – mark this – He did not exchange deity for humanity. It is not subtraction.
What did He empty Himself of? Well Scripture is clear on that. These are the things that the Scripture says. First, His heavenly glory, His heavenly glory. Can you imagine the eternal Son of God, the Creator of the entire universe, with full omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, and immutability, setting aside those attributes that belong to His heavenly glory to be confined to a body?
In John 17, as our Lord comes to the end of His time on earth, He says, “I glorified you on the earth,” John 17:4, “having accomplished the work which You gave Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” That tells us He gave up His glory, He veiled His glory. His glory was still there because in Luke 9:32 on the Mount of Transfiguration, He pulled back His flesh and demonstrated His glory. And you remember the three disciples who were there fell over like dead men in the presence of that divine glory. You could say it this way: His glory was veiled in human form. That in itself is a staggering reality, that the omnipresent God became confined to one body. That’s where His glory was veiled.
Secondly, He yielded authority to the Father, He yielded authority to the Father. All through the gospel of John, “I only do what the Father tells Me. I do the Father’s will. Not My will, but Yours be done.” And it says in Hebrews 5:8, “He learned obedience.” Wow. Never in all eternity had He the need to be obedient. He learned obedience by submitting to the authority of the Father. So here He gives up the full expression and manifestation of His omnipresent, omnipotent, immutable glory, and He yields in submission and obedience to the authority of the Father. I might just make a comment there.
This culture hates authority. It hates it because it is so individualized now - the smashing and crushing of the family, the attacking of every possible authority. Individuality, self-centered selfishness has literally become a plague that is killing an entire culture. And when you call those kinds of people to submit their lives to someone else, to Christ, they’re naturally unwilling to do that. And there are vestiges of that same self-will and independent authority that still reside in the human heart because they’ve been planted there by the influences of our society.
Our Lord yielded up the manifestation of His heavenly glory and was confined to a body. Our Lord yielded up His authority and learned obedience. He also gave up prerogatives as God. He could have, He says, if He wanted to called a legion of angels to deliver Him, Matthew 24. He didn’t do that. He gave up then the right to use His omnipotence, His powers.
Second Corinthians 8:9 says, “He who was rich became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich,” 2 Corinthians 8:9. He gave up heavenly riches and became poor. It doesn’t mean poor in the economic sense – earthly, monetary sense – it means He was impoverished of all of the wealth of heaven and is reduced to a man with very little, who has nowhere to lay His head.
But I think the thing He gave up most that was so amazing was He gave up His relationship to His Father, because on the cross He said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” John 1:29, He was identified as the Lamb of God, God’s chosen sacrifice. Second Corinthians 5:21, “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us.” He did not give up His deity, but He confined His heavenly glory to a human body, and thus He gave up the glory that was His.
He gave up the authority that was His, as the Creator of the universe and the Sovereign over all. He gave up choices and prerogatives to use His power. He gave up heavenly riches – vast, incomprehensible possessions and privileges. And He gave up a favorable relationship to God to suffer under God’s wrath. That’s what it means that He emptied Himself. This is really staggering reality. No one can go that far, because none of us possess heavenly glory, none of us possess divine authority, none of us possess divine prerogatives, none of us possess heavenly riches. None of us even possess a right relationship to God on our own. He had all that, and yet He emptied Himself of those things while remaining fully God.
Paul says there’s a fourth step: “taking the form of a slave,” “taking the form of a slave.” He became a slave, a slave to God, a slave to God. John 17 says that He was pros ton theon, face-to-face with God in equality. In the incarnation, He became a slave to God, took on the form of a slave. Notice that; that’s the word morphē again, and it means “the essential nature.” It doesn’t mean He wore a slave’s robe or He wore slavery like a costume; He actually became a slave. He became a slave. “I was one” – He says in Luke 22:27 – “among you as one who serves like a slave.” Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45: “Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and give His life a ransom for many.” Again, He showed that slavery, that condescension when He, in John 13, rose from the table and washed the feet of the disciples.
As I said earlier, He was always borrowing because He had nothing. Like a slave, He owned nothing. He had to borrow a place to be born. He had to borrow a place to lay His head. He had to borrow a boat to ride in and to preach from. He had to borrow an animal to His own coronation. He had to borrow a room for the Passover. He had to borrow a tomb to be buried in. Vast rights of heavenly glory - He emptied Himself of those.
The next step, number five, “and being made in the likeness of men.” He went right by the angels and became one of us. Again, the Greek term here means that He was given the essential attributes of humanity. He had the essential attributes of a slave and the essential attributes of humanity. We know that from Luke 2:52, “He grew in wisdom and stature, and favor with God and men,” when He was twelve years old. “In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made unto the Law” (Galatians 4:4).
In Hebrews chapter 2 - wonderful statement - verse 14, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Surely He didn’t give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of His people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He suffered, He’s able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” He was made in the form of a man to die in the place of men, and to sympathize with men in their trials.
Romans 8:3 says, “God sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and yet without sin.” He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. Now this is impossible to believe. The incarnation – listen – is not an exchange of deity for humanity. It’s not a subtraction in which He somehow is diminished as God to fill in humanity. He is fully God, truly God; fully man, truly man; God in nature and essence, man in nature and essence - being found in appearance as a man.
That’s the next step. “He took the likeness of men and appeared as a man.” This advances the previous point, “Having become man, He was recognized as a man.” Hebrews 5:7 calls it the days of His flesh. The appearance, schēmati - schēma again - the outward manifestation was as a man. He was not merely a man, He was the God-man. The morphē was the morphē of God and the morphē of man. That was His essential being. But on the outside He appeared as a man. In fact, that’s what people thought of Him. He was nothing but a man. He looked like a man; He talked like a man; He walked like a man; He acted like a man; He was a man. He was in the appearance of a man. Now, however, He is in the appearance of God, who is also man in glory.
This is humiliation, not just because He took on the appearance of a man, but look at the next statement. The next statement says again, “He humbled Himself.” We’re going down another step. He had become a man, and as a man He had identified as a slave to His Father. And beyond that, He humbled Himself again; He was not yet at the lowest level. And the verb used here is simply “to be made low.” It’s as if the writer is saying He went down further. He has given up His honors; He’s given up His rights; He’s given up His heavenly principles or heavenly possessions. He doesn’t fight back; He doesn’t argue; He doesn’t debate; He doesn’t demand. He goes even lower.
And the next one says, How low? “By becoming obedient to the point of death.” His submission to the Father took Him all the way to death, because He was, after all, the Lamb that God had chosen to be the sacrifice for sin. This is the depth of His condescension. He said, “I have come to do Your will, O God,” Hebrews 10. And what was God’s will? That He die. He says, “No one takes My life from Me, I lay it down of Myself.” It was a voluntary death as a slave to the Father’s will. It was not easy. He went to the cross with strong crying and tears, sweating, as it were, blood in the garden, realizing that He would be under the wrath of God, an experience completely alien to Him.
It was a natural death – the last step – Paul says, it was death on a cross, “even death on a cross.” “Even” calls attention to the next shocking feature. “Greater love hath no one than a man who lays down his life for his friends,” Jesus said. How low would you go?
Do you understand this? Do you understand how alien this is to pride, self-will, self-promotion, self-aggrandizement, demanding what you want? Do you understand how ugly that looks compared to Christ? He who deserved to be where He was and who He was, fully didn’t hold onto that, but came all the way down, all the way to death; and not just any death, but death on a cross.
Why is that noted? Because that was the most ignominious, ugly, embarrassing kind of death - the most painful torture that had been invented in human history at that point. Hanging naked in front of everyone was reserved for slaves. It was hated by Jews. Deuteronomy 21 said, “Whoever dies on a tree is cursed by God.” And He was. This is the ultimate in human degradation. This is where He bears our curse on the tree, Galatians 3. The humility is actually overwhelmingly transcendent; we can’t grasp it.
What an amazing, amazing humiliation. Why? To die for us. He did this because – go back to verse 3 again - “He did nothing from selfishness or empty conceit; with humility of mind He regarded others more important than Himself.” He wasn’t looking out for His own personal interests, but the interests of others. He did all that for us, right? We didn’t deserve it.
How unsearchable are God’s judgments; how unfathomable are His ways. No one could ever imagine a God that would do this. There was no such deity that existed in the world or exists today, because demons don’t invent deities like this. We, we would have said, “Well, if the Son of God arrives, we’ll put Him in a palace; we’ll make sure He’s born into wealth and make sure He’s educated in the finest schools and under the most elite teachers. And we’ll make sure He’s loved, and lifted up, and exalted, and honored, and believed in, and would never let Him be born in a stable to a nondescript family - a carpenter’s son with no earthly goods, no formal education, and a group of very difficult, uneducated fishermen and assorted other unqualified men. We would never let that happen.” But like the psalmist said, “God’s judgments are a great deep, a great deep.”
This is the profound truth of the incarnation, and it in itself is marvelous because we understand that in doing this He bought our salvation by His death and resurrection. But that’s not Paul’s point. Paul’s point is, “Do you think you have more rights to what you think is yours than He had to what was His? So you can’t humble yourself?”
I don’t know any uglier attitude than one that would say, “I am more privileged than the Son of God. I should have what I want, what I expect, what I demand.” There’s nothing more ugly than that. Who do you think you are? It is true that you as a believer are part of the chosen people, royal priesthood, holy nation, all of those things; but that’s all by mercy and grace, right? You don’t have anything that you earned; it’s all grace. For you to put demands on other people is as base and sinful as it gets. Such profound truth makes pride and self-will perhaps the ugliest sin of all. We should be a kind of people who say, “I have received all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies from the Lord; I deserve none of it.” And we should be in a hurry to humble ourselves. But people just push their own agendas; and therein lies the ugliness that can be reflected even among Christian people.
Yes, we have a special standing before the Lord. Yes, we are God’s children. Yes, we are joint heirs with Christ. Yes, Jesus even said, “I’ve called you friends.” Yes, we are all indwelt by the Lord Himself, and even the Father has taken up residence in us, and the Holy Spirit as well. We are the living temples of God. Yes, we are ambassadors for Christ. Yes, we are blessed with every spiritual blessing. We are chosen, predestined, adopted to conform to the image of Christ, called for eternal purpose and glory. We are all of that; but it’s not inherently due to anything in us, right? So who am I to assert my rights as a Christian?
Every marvelous blessing, every privilege that we have is a merciful gift of divine grace. How tragic is it that self-centered believers place themselves at a level that is even higher than the Lord Himself, as if you deserve what you think you want. So, Paul says, unity is the product of love, which is the product of selfless, self-giving humility. “Let this attitude be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Let’s pray.
Lord, we know that You have established that You hate pride and You desire humility in Your people. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Help us to follow the example of Christ, unparalleled, incomprehensible humiliation for the sake of undeserving sinners. It’s not that we earned that; we couldn’t. While we were enemies and haters of God, Christ came all the way to death on a cross for us. And He not only is our Redeemer, but He is our example of selfless, loving, humble sacrifice for others.
Humble us, Lord, that one day we might be exalted in Your presence. Lord, we grieve over the state of Christianity, the church. It’s so profoundly sad that there’s so much hostility and fighting and identity groups demanding things, attacking and assaulting each other. We know this is sin, and it flows always out of pride. So humble Your people that they may live in such a way that puts Christ on display. We ask this for ourselves and for all those who name Your name. Amen.
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