Friday, August 7, 2020

The Example of Christ

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition, or vain conceit but in humility consider others better than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).

Paul spoke of the Christian’s privilege of joining in the sufferings of Christ, to His glory. His argument then moved to the impact this should have on our life in community. Our love for God, our insight into His truth, our obedience to Him, and our readiness to suffer should make us better able to glorify God and live with one another.

Paul pointed in this regard to the example of Jesus because Jesus did it first, and our power to do it after Him comes from our being united to Him. Jesus, even though God Himself was willing to regard us as more important than Himself, was willing to come and die for us. In fact, we are not more important than He is, but He was willing to consider us more important in order to serve and save us. In the same way, says Paul, we must be willing always to consider other people more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:1–5).

In Philippians 2:6–11, Paul reminded the believers of the fundamental principles of the faith by quoting to them a hymn of the early church, a hymn that celebrates the incarnation, humiliation, and exaltation of Jesus Christ. In verse 6, the hymn says that Jesus existed in the nature of God, but did not regard this as something to be clung to. In verse 7, the hymn says that He “made Himself nothing,” which means that He laid aside the glory that He had with the Father (see also John 17:5).

Verse 7 goes on to say that Jesus took the nature of a servant in being incarnated as a human being. Then verse 8 says that He went further, taking upon Himself the curse-judgment for sin that we were under and allowed Himself to be crucified, in obedience to the Father. This, says Paul, is how we should live with one another. It God calls us to it, we should be willing to suffer and die for one another.

That is not the end of the story, though, either for Jesus or for us. Jesus, because of His faithfulness, was exalted to the highest place, enthroned as King of all creation, and destined to receive the worship of the entire universe. We also, after our time of suffering, will participate in glory with Him, as coheirs with Christ, so that as He is the sun, so we will “shine like stars” (v. 15).

For Jesus it was humbling to become a man, even more to be a servant. Still further He humbled Himself by dying. Finally, before any exalting took place, He further humiliated Himself in His manner of death—the cross. Hold Christ as your example as God brings you down before He exalts you.