Christ, Our Model of Humility
Although the Philippian Church was a model church in many respects; they, like most churches, had their minor personality clashes. Paul in chapter 4 verse 2 warns two factious women who were a threat to the unity and joy in the church, to try to work out their differences.
In chapter 2:1-4 of Philippians, Paul shows how unity is attained when each of us are humble and unselfish. Humility is simply putting the needs and concerns of others before our own. Only then can we experience true unity.
Motivation and power to be humble
Paul starts out in verses 3-4 of that 2nd chapter by giving us motivation and power to be united.
First, he shows us that when things aren’t going our way and we are tempted to feel slighted, we can find our consolation in our relationship with Christ. We also find comfort in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit as He binds our hearts together in love, regardless of our differences.
Paul also challenged the congregation to stay united for his sake as a founding pastor. That’s not the highest motivation for unity, but it is something to consider. If you love your pastor and don’t want to break his heart; do whatever you can to foster unity in your church. There is nothing that tears the heart out of a pastor than to see his church family torn apart by disunity. Of course, sometimes churches are torn asunder by self-centered, hireling pastors who have no heart for God nor for their flock.
Getting back to the need for humility to protect unity, Paul uses Christ as the perfect example of humility in Philippians 2:5-8 Look at the humility of Jesus who left the glories of Heaven to come down to this sin-cursed earth to live among us and die on a cross to pay the penalty for our sins. His humility was expressed in self-sacrifice, self-denial and in His self-giving love.
How can we learn the humility of Christ?
In Matthew 11:28-30 Christ, the Master Teacher, as well as our Saviour from sin, using the illustration of yoked oxen ploughing a field, invites us to be yoked with Him, as the strong ox. Yoked with Him, we learn His meekness and humility in service and are given the ability to accomplish work beyond our own strength and wisdom. As long as we walk in harmony with Him, allowing Him to lead us, we find the strength we need to accomplish whatever He asks of us. It’s only stubborn Christians who insist on going their own way, who find their stiff necks being rubbed raw by the yoke and being burned out in their Christian service.
Jesus also gives us another example of humility in service by washing the feet of His disciples at the Last Supper before His crucifixion. The story is told in John 13:13-15. Some see this story as simply instruction for us to wash one another’s feet in a church service. I see in the story something far more basic than ceremonial foot washing. Here Jesus gives us His example of humility by doing whatever He can to meet the needs of others, even to stooping to menial tasks to help others. If we stop and ask God to show us how to help the needy, He will bring them into our lives and we will have no lack of opportunity to show humility and love to others.
No, we cannot have Jesus deity nor His sinless perfection. We cannot have His miracle working power, nor can we redeem sinners by dying for them; but we can seek to have His humility to serve and help others.
Isaiah 6:1-4 is but one of many Biblical passages that describe the Holiness and awesome loftiness of Christ in Heaven. When Jesus came down to this earth as a baby to grow up and live among men, it was God in human flesh amazingly and graciously condescending to live among us, though He was rejected by those He came to save. What amazing humility!
We Christians have a high and holy calling through our relationship with Christ, to share a little of that glory of Christ, though we bear it in earthen vessels. From that high and holy calling mentioned in II Timothy 1:9, we must condescend (without having an ugly condescending attitude) to meet the needs of others around us as God opens doors of opportunity to us.
What did Jesus give up to come to this earth?
Though He did not give up His Deity, He gave up His Heavenly glory. He mentions that in His prayer in John 17:4-5. Because we are not God, we cannot begin to grasp His Heavenly glory, no more than a worm can grasp the glory of being human.
He gave up His independent authority as God. Coming down to this earth as a man, He lived in subjection to His Heavenly Father with whom He had been absolutely equal in power and authority in Heaven. Hebrews 5:8 tells us that He actually learned and experienced obedience to His Heavenly Father through His sufferings as a man.
He limited the exercise of His divine attributes as a man on this earth. Though He still had omnipotence and omniscience as God, He limited the exercise of those attributes as a man. For example, in Matthew 24:36 He said that He did not know when He was returning to this earth to reign. I believe He knows that information now, but He chose not to know it while He walked on this earth.
Though He owns the entire universe which He created, when He walked on this earth as a man, He lived in utter poverty without a home to call His own and without money. All He had materially was that which was loaned or given to Him by others. Read II Corinthians 8:9 to learn how though rich, He became poor that we through His poverty might become rich spiritually.
In His humility, through He recognized His rights and privileges as God Almighty, He did not clutch those rights. He willingly divested Himself of all His rights and came down as a slave. He did not just do the work of a slave. He became a slave in His heart, living out the life of a slave to serve others. He had a servant’s heart, as can we if we follow Him in His humility.
He gave up His relationship with His Heavenly Father. As He hung on the cross bearing the sins of the world, He cried out in despair, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Try to grasp this. Jesus became alienated on the cross from the very God with whom He was a part of the Trinity. Yes, He who knew no sin, as the Holy Son of God, became sin for us. That is, He became our sin-bearer, taking upon Himself the full wrath of God for our sins. Read II Corinthians 5:21 and rejoice in the wonderful salvation He offers you.
Humility goes as far as it must to meet a need.
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