Paul’s exhortation for Christians to “think of others as better than themselves” in Phil. 2:3 is a call for us to live a counter-cultural lifestyle. Humility was not regarded as a virtue in the ancient world, nor is it today.
This is why Paul also appeals to the example set for us by our Saviour Jesus and which is set out so beautifully in Philippians 2:5-11.
Although He was God, Jesus voluntarily submitted Himself to His Father’s will, humbled Himself and became a servant to all.
What does the life of Jesus, fully God/fully man, show us about humility?
Jesus’ life says that humility:
- Does not cling on to “rights.” Jesus did not “cling on tightly” tot the glory that was rightfully His as the Son of God. Instead, He became a real human being, taking on all our weakness and frailty, yet without sin. (Phil. 2:6&7). Jesus did not cling on to His rights and neither should we.
- Seeks to serve, not be served. (Phil.2:7). The word servant here refers to someone who has “given their will up to the will of another.” When He walked the earth, Jesus taught His followers that He came to “serve, not to be served” (Mark 10:42-45) and He lived this out every day of His life. For this reason, those who follow Jesus are those who have become His willing slaves, bound in service to Him.
- Leaves the glory to God. (Phil.2:9-11). Following His death, the Father glorified Jesus through the resurrection and His ascension into glory to the right hand of God. Glory always follows humility but it is important to note that it is the Father Who gives us honour and ultimately, it is always for His greater glory (see Phil.2:11). Therefore, we do not humble ourselves in order to receive glory – the humble servant leaves that to God, in His good time.
To think of others “as better than ourselves” is most definitely not an easy thing to do. It’s not just counter-cultural; it goes right against the grain of our being!
Thankfully, not only do we have the example of Jesus but we also have His life in us through the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. As we yield to His work in our lives and follow His lead we will also experience the joy that comes from living the humble life.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” (Apostle Paul, Phil.2:5)
Blessings to you!
Pastor Rob Furlong.