Philippians 2:5-8 “Be Christlike”
God loves you! In today’s text we have the privilege of hearing once again the wonderful good news about how much God loves us! Not only do we read in this text about what God did for us in Christ, we also read about the great and wonderful calling God has placed upon us, a calling for which God has graciously equipped us in Christ!
Follow along with me as I read Philippians 2:5-8 from the English Standard Version:
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, 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.
This is the Holy Word of God. Let us pray…
Today we are going to ask three questions of the text.
First, What Did Christ Do For Us
The text tells us about the loving humility of Jesus Christ. Though Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, who is fully God in every way, yet he did not cling to his divine position. Specifically, the text tells us that, “though he was in the form of God, (he) did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” As the eternal God, the creator of the universe, the divine Son, he was worshipped by the angels, enthroned above the universe, obeyed by all of creation. His glory was too great for human eyes to behold, too wonderful for our feeble minds to comprehend! What would compel this great and mighty God to leave his throne on high, set aside his glory, and become a mere man?
The text tells us that he “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Why would the God who speaks and there is light, who made the vast sky and filled it with planets, stars, and galaxies, who formed the world and all the wonders within it, why would this God become a mere man, bound by time and space, vulnerable, lowly, unrecognizable? Furthermore, why would be take the form of a servant, a lowly carpenter born in a stable with the animals?
But that’s not all, the text goes on, “and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” The eternal, all powerful God who made all things for his own glory humbled himself not only by becoming a man, but also by submitting himself to death, the penalty for sin. And more than that, he submitted himself to the scandalous death of crucifixion. This most torturous death penalty was reserved for the vilest of criminals, it was the most excruciating experience the Romans could contrive, a most shameful death. Those who were crucified were hung naked on the side of a main roadway so that all who passed by would be horrified by the sight and fear Roman rule.
What could possibly inspire Almighty God to submit to such torture and humiliation? He could have called upon the angels and in a moment they would have come to his rescue! He could have changed that cross into a fortress, or wiped out the entire Roman army with a mere word!
What compelled Christ Jesus to humble himself in such a manner? We did. Christ came to serve us, he humbled himself and became a servant to save us from our sins. God’s love for us is what compelled him. Jesus Christ, the eternal God and creator of the universe, as scandalous as it may seem, considered us more important than himself. He bore upon himself our sins, guilt and shame. He fought for us, defeating all our enemies; sin, death, and Satan. He took upon himself our sins and paid for them with his blood that we might have have peace with God.
What did Christ do for us? He showed us the depths of God’s unconditional love for you and for me. At great cost, he lay down his life for us. He humbled himself for us in ways we will never be able to fully appreciate because we can never understand the glory he enjoys as God and which he set aside for a time that we might be saved. Christ gave himself for you and for me!
So, What Does Christ Ask Of Us?
Beloved, let us remember, first and foremost, that Christ Jesus fully and completely paid for all our sins on the cross. All of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ alone for are salvation were in that moment irrevocably saved! Our names are written in God’s book of life! We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, given spiritual new life, transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God! We have been adopted as God’s children! And nothing can ever again separate us from the love of God! Until we learn to appreciate this truth, we will be unable to rejoice in our calling as Christians. For we will not hear God’s commands as from a loving heavenly Father who walks with us and empowers us to be all that he desires us to be. Rather, if we do not understand the unconditional nature of God’s love for us, if we fail to appreciate the power of Christ’s sacrifice for us, then these commands will be burdensome. But Christ himself said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
I sincerely hope that we all appreciate the depths of God’s love for us and in light of this love can receive with gratitude the instruction of our glorious and beloved king Jesus! So what does Christ ask of us? Verse 5 tells us, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus”. What is this mind which we are to have?
We are to have the mind of Christ, and more specifically, we are to live in the humility of Christ, filled with his servant’s heart! For if Christ Jesus considered us more important than himself, then we must certainly consider others as more important than ourselves! Which is exactly what Christ commanded us in verse 4 which we covered last week!
Beloved, we are to serve one another! What are some ways to serve one another? It has come to my attention that certain members of our congregation have been making and delivering baked goods to those in our congregation who live alone. Others have been visiting their neighbors or calling them to make sure they are well. Still others are collecting canned goods for those in our community who may be struggling to make ends meet in this time. All of these are ways of caring for others which honor our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Another way in which we can honor the Lord, Jesus Christ, is by loving our family members. I do not mean simply enjoying their presence, I mean loving them with the love of Jesus Christ, putting their needs and desires above our own. I think of Wayne Grudem, a well-respected theologian of our day. A few years ago his wife developed a serious health condition. Their doctor recommended that they move out West where the weather would be more conducive to her needs. So Dr. Grudem gave up a prestigious and well paid professorship to teach at a small school in Arizona so his wife could live more comfortably. He put her needs above his own, loving her in a manner which reflects something of the love of Christ Jesus for us!
What Does Christ Grant To Us?
Beloved, there is a love which is common in the world, a type of love which cares for others when they reciprocate. It is a sort of selfish love, an “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” sort of love. But this is not the love which we see in Jesus Christ. He did not consider us equal to himself, though that would be an act of extreme humility on his part, no, he considered us more important than himself!
This sort of love, a love which compels one to lay down his life for another, is foreign to our world. Who can understand it?
This is the sort of love which Christ wants us to have for one another, even for those we do not naturally like! For Christ died for us while we were still enemies, which means that we ought to consider even our enemies as more important than ourselves! Yet which one of us is able in his or her own strength to love our enemies in this manner? If we are honest with ourselves, we will have to admit that we do not have this sort of love!
But Christ grants us his love! He not only grants us his love for us, but he also grants us his love for one another! That is, once the love of Christ has filled our hearts and granted us peace with God, it fills to overflowing that we may experience his love for our neighbors and even our enemies! Christ gives us no command for which he does not equip us through his Holy Spirit!
Beloved, Christ offers to you and to me this same mind of Christ which took him to the cross! He offers us his own love, his own humility, his own servant heart! So when he charges us to have this same mindset which we find in Christ, and tells us that this mindset is already ours in Christ, we understand that we do not need to try harder, to strive to consider others more important than ourselves, but rather, we simply need to claim what is already ours in Jesus Christ!
Beloved, the call today is twofold: first, receive anew the wonderful love of Christ for you! It is unconditional! It is dignifying! It takes away our guilt and our shame! And it reconciles us to God! And second, receive and live out the mind of Christ which is offered to you through the indwelling Holy Spirit! You will recognize it when you find yourself caring more about others than yourself. And when you struggle with the selfish attitudes which plague us all on this side of heaven, remember to turn to Jesus who offers you all his love for your neighbor that you may enter in and care for others the way he cares for you!
Let us pray…