Good morning to you my precious family and friends

Philippians 2:5-8Have 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.”

There is no better way of seeing how much pride there is in our hearts than by taking a look at the Lord Jesus. It is easier to spot pride in others than it is in ourselves. We may be surprised by just how much pride we discover in ourselves if we take a serious look.

Many of us are proud of our status. Our Lord Jesus was God and laid aside His glory. He emptied Himself of everything except love. Many are proud of their birth. Mary conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit before she was married to Joseph. Many are proud of their profession. He was a carpenter. Some are proud of their home. Sometimes He had nowhere to lay His head. Many are proud that they move in high social circles. He went to the homes of tax collectors and “sinners”. Many are proud that they can get their own way. He said in John 5:30I seek not to please Myself” Many are proud of their reputation. He made Himself of no reputation. Well, how do you come out as we compare ourselves with Him. I can tell you how I feel - ashamed.

These verses are set against the background of two quarrelling ladies in the Philippian church. Their quarrel was threatening to destroy the unity of the whole church. Paul made it clear that the secret of maintaining unity is humility. Wherever there is contentiousness, it shows the presence of pride. Pride always destroys, divides, sets one person against another, causes conflict, breaks up marriages and partnerships of every sort. Paul instructs the Philippians to strive to be “of one mind,” and to achieve this by considering others before themselves, and putting the wants and needs of others before their own. To emphasise how important this is, he introduces the best example of humility and self-sacrifice for the sake of others: Jesus Himself. It is His attitude that we should primarily imitate.

The motivation for a life worthy of the gospel is nothing other than the gospel. Paul does not only demand selflessness; he fixes our eyes on its most vivid expression: The Son of God. Often our scope for Christ’s self-giving is the cross. But Paul takes us further back. Before Christ’s ministry and death, He was “in very nature God”.  The Son dwelt eternally with the Father (see John 1:1-18).

As we reflect on this “equality” that the Son shared with the Father, words fail to express the splendid life of God the Father, Son and Spirit. We cannot imagine what the Son enjoyed before His incarnation. Verse 6 says that He was not concerned only with His own “advantage” “He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” Instead, He valued others ahead of Himself and looked to their interests.

How can God make Himself “nothing,” or empty himself?  What does it mean for the Divine to be made “in human likeness”? These few verses are more concerned with what He did, resulting from His unfathomable love. We need not speculate about what the Son ‘gave up,’ or ‘lost.Verse 7 says He took “the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness”. Maybe the reason we struggle to imitate Christ’s selflessness and sacrificial example, both in our actions and attitude towards others, is because we reduce the view of the cross.

Our Lord Jesus gave up what was rightly and forever His, so that we might grasp it by faith. The Son left heaven so that sons and daughters can enter into it.

Often we only see that old rugged cross and hear how Jesus died for us. Using this hymn, Paul broadens our vision to include what Christ possessed before His incarnation and death. He gave up more than we will ever comprehend. What we receive in the gospel truly begs belief. When we even slightly understand, what God has done for us, can we learn to have the same mind set as Christ towards others.

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus, my mind cannot comprehend thinking of You being a servant. As I look at Your sinless life my heart is sad because I realise I am so unlike You. But I want to be like You. Help me my Saviour to pour contempt on all my pride and go forward from here clothed in garments of humility. In Your precious name I pray Lord Jesus Amen

Much love from Maurice and Margaret