Joy Through Humility
In relationships (1–4)
Paul uses a conditional “if” to speak to the Philippian congregation. He says if they are true believers, they will be united by Christ, comforted by God’s love and share in the Spirit (v. 1). By their very position, Christians were united in God, but they had a responsibility to strive to be like-minded, undivided in love and Spirit (v. 2). The verb “like-minded” occurs 10 times in this epistle. It does not mean everyone will think precisely the same way, but Paul implies there must be a similar biblical worldview and common values among followers of Christ. Paul’s joy in advancing the gospel (1:18) will not be complete apart from this peace in the Spirit (v. 2).
Like-minded relationships must be fostered. Humans are naturally selfish and prideful, which causes anything but harmony. Paul says an antidote to self-centeredness is humility before God and placing the needs of others above our own (vv. 3–4).
By example (5–11)
These verses allow us to enter into the mind of Christ; we tread on holy ground indeed!
Building on the last section, Paul conveyed that the mindset to be emulated is only in Christ (v. 5). Our Lord did not grasp or exploit His equality with God (v. 6). Simply put, Jesus, who was fully God, did not demand to remain in glory. Instead, He freely let go of the greatest and most cherished things to take on the nature of a servant or slave (v. 7). Pause and be stunned by this reality. Furthermore, Christ obediently embraced the cross and died in our place! (v. 8) I cannot fathom that my Savior would die for us. But He did! He set the standard for humble obedience.
And yet, Christ’s death is not the end. Jesus is alive and is exalted to the highest position possible; He is given the Name above every name (v. 9). A day is coming when at His Name, all will submit, all will bow and confess, but all will not be saved.
Do not miss the urgency of this present hour. Tell someone about our glorious King who left His home in glory, died in our place, was resurrected and exalted, and is coming very soon. Are you willing to live for Him and follow His example?
In lifestyle (12–15)
Because of such a great work of Jesus, Paul encouraged his readers to continue to live out their faith as God accomplished His will in and through them. Paul does not say work for your salvation, but work out your salvation. A byproduct of our Christian life is that we will continually be transformed into the image of our Lord. The Philippians could work out their salvation because of the soberness of realizing that God worked in them (v. 13). In other words, God’s work in Christians provides the power and motivation to live a godly lifestyle. We are talking about the exalted Lord living and working within believers. This should humbly result in godly fear and trembling.
At the same time, it should serve as a motivation to display godly character. Believers, must not be grumblers or arguers like the Israelites (v. 14). A goal for Christians is to be blameless and pure (v. 15). This does not mean you will achieve sinless perfection on Earth. Rather, you are blameless, pure and faultless in the sight of God. In Christ, you are an unblemished sacrifice because of His finished work on the cross. Remember, your sins were nailed to the cross with Christ. Therefore, with Him living in you, you are a light in the darkness.
Our world needs hope. Is your lifestyle of humility pointing people to our Savior?