“He humbled himself by becoming …”

Paul, in the first two chapters of his letter to the Philippians we read today, draws some utterly powerful thoughts, that is, spiritually powerful, from his contemplation of the ‘mortal’ life of our Lord Jesus. Paul tells them to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (2:3).

Our world today operates on the principle of everyone competing with each other – in order to see who is the best! But what does Paul tell them? “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (verse 4). He then makes the powerful and wonderful point, one that we need to fully absorb. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant …” (verses 5-7).

Then we read – the wondrous result: “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death … therefore God has highly exalted him” (verses 6-9).

Jesus set the example of the kind of mind God is looking to see. This is the kind of person we should aim to be in the process of becoming. Some people are confused by the point Paul makes here. Why, because they have been taught that Jesus is a part of God! Scripture reveals he became part of God because of his obedience to God’s will. Remember how he prayed, “not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42).

Now in tomorrow’s Philippians reading, we will see how we can become, in a sense, part of God, if we humble ourselves in our mortal lives. Paul writes of true believers, that their “citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body …” (3:20) and so become, in the kingdom that is coming, on earth, as described in Revelation, “priests of God and of Christ and they will reign with him …” (20:6). May we aim to the uttermost to be “humbled … by becoming obedient …”