Thursday, April 6, 2017

Philippians 2:5-11 Humility not Good Idea but God-idea

KEY TEXT: Philippians 2:5-8 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 made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,  being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 

KEY THOT: Paul says believers have the "mind of Christ" in 1 Corinthians 2:16. What is the essence of this mind of Christ? Paul gives us a peek into this mind of Christ in today's lectionary text, Philippians 2:5-11; he writes: "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus." What is the main characteristics of this mind of Christ? In one word, it is humility: "he humbled himself " (v.8). When we think of it, when we ask ourselves why humans should be humble, it is not because God is so big and we are so small. We should be humble because this Great God we worship is a humble God. Humility is in the heart of God. The opposite of humility is pride, which is demonic. If our Almighty Creator is humble, what makes us puny creatures of His think we have reason to be proud? So the mind of Christ is a humble mind.

But what is humility? Jesus has demonstrated the humility of the Godhead in three ways:
  1. Surrendering Rights & Privileges: Though "he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing..." (vv.6-7). In other words, to be humble means firstly to be willing to surrender our claims to certain rights and privileges by virtue of our race, religion or rank. Jesus was willing to surrender his rights and privileges that are his as a member of the Godhead--honour, power and glory--to become nothing. He makes no claim to any self-honour, renounce self-power, and self-glory. He who was Somebody was willing to be a Nobody,
  2. Becoming a Bond-Slave: Not only was he willing to be unknown and without position or power, he actually took on the lowest position in human society of his time--a bond-slave: "taking the form of a servant (doulos), being born in the likeness of men" (v.7). The word doulos refers to a bond-slave without any rights and privileges. Not only was the bond-slave status the lowest in Roman society, it was also the weakest position to be in. A bond-slave can be bought and sold like chattels. In other words, the mind of Christ is a servant-mind--a mind to serve rather than to be served.
  3. Being Obedient unto Death: The third characteristic of the humble mind of Christ is obedient to the Father unto death: "And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (v.8). The mind of Christ does not seek for self-actualization but God-realization. It is exalting God and crucifying self. The mind of Christ is not focused on making ourselves great but making God great. And that may require us to become obedient--in some cases, unto death. Obedience is not just a good idea--it is a God-idea.
To have the mind of Christ is to have a humble mind. Humility is in the heart of God. Even within the Godhead, there is mutual deference and submission that is characteristic of humility. Pride insists on its own will, but love requires humility: love "is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way" (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). 

May God grant us the Mind of Christ so that we might have the humility of Christ within us. Amen.

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