Philippians 2 v 5 – 11
This is one of the most sublime portions of Scripture in all of God’s Word.
We live in a world in need of consolation. People need to be comforted.
The consolation that we have in Christ is part of the foundation of the unity that produces joy that we looked at last week. Also the comfort of love – that we love one another – the communion in the Spirit and that caring affection and mercy that Paul tells us about in chapter 2. Those are the foundations.
In describing that Paul called on the Philippians to do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit. He called upon them to have a lowliness of mind in which they esteem others better than themselves and to look out also for the interests of others and not only for their own interests.
We live in a world where there is a lot of selfish ambition and conceit.
The Narcissism, Hedonism and Materialism are rife among humanity. I’m merely pointing out to you what you’ve seen with your own eyes. You have seen this driving in your car, walking on the beach, walking down the Mall – even in church!
Paul tells us to have a lowliness of mind in which we esteem other people better than ourselves, and that we look out for the interests of other people, and not only our own interests.
In verse 5 Paul carries on to tell us to have this mind (those attitudes of verses 3 to 4) and why we must have it, is because it is ours – it has been given to us (believers) – it’s the mind of Christ.
He says: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus”.
It’s not a mind that you can get or gain or study for – it is ours!
God has given people like us the mind of Christ – what an astonishing thought!
From verse 6-11 Paul elaborates on this mind (attitude) of Christ, and he tells us what the mind is that we have and the mind that we, collectively and individually should be thinking with.
The mind of Christ, while He was on earth:
- Lacked selfish ambition or conceit (v 6)
There is nothing more ugly than that – the ugliness of pride. Christ did not have it. Prior to His incarnation He was in the form of God, which means that He existed as one with God – in accord with what we read in John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.”
He was equal with God – that’s who He was, and who He’s always been. He shared the Father’s glory. What is significant about that is that John 17:5 tells us that His glory is something that the Father has always refused to share with any created being.
Isaiah 42:8 tells us: “I am the LORD; that is My Name; My glory I give to no other, nor My praise to carved idols.”
That’s how jealously God guards His glory, and yet the Lord Jesus shared a glory similar to that of the Father!
Despite that, we see that He did not consider that something to be held on to – He did not consider it a thing to be grasped. It’s so unlike human beings. When we have some reputation, talent, gift or some possessions / fancy stuff we just love to flaunt and to hold on to it.
But the Lord Jesus did not hold on to that – the glory of equality with God which Christ enjoyed from eternity was not something that He felt He had to hold on to at all costs. That is a true demonstration of a lack of selfish ambition – of conceit on the part of our Lord.
Do you have that mind that God has given us?
Do you consider your standing before others, whatever that may be, something that you need to hold on to and dress up more at all costs? Do we consider ourselves more important than other people and consider that distinction something to be preserved at all costs?
If that is the case, then we lack the mind of Christ, and that is serious spiritual ailment!
- Looked out for the interest of others (vv 7-8)
When our Lord became flesh, He made Himself of no reputation. He emptied Himself and laid down all of that glory. He divested Himself of the glory that He had with the Father. It was painful to Him. We hear it in His heart cry in Johh 17:5: “And now, Father, glorify Me in Your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed.”
This wonderful treasure that He gave up!
He took upon Himself the form of a servant. Nobody wants to be a servant – we all want to be the boss, don’t we? Not so with the Lord Jesus! He didn’t come as a king or nobleman, but as the lowly son of simple carpenter Joseph and little Mary.
He came in the likeness of men, and as such He could experience all their temptations and sufferings, yet without sinning. Everything that’s ever plagued you have plagued Him. He didn’t have to – He could have help on to His glory and never suffer that.
He’s so different to us – not only are we not prepared to suffer that, we want to enjoy it!
He experienced all the temptations and sufferings, yet without sinning. In other words even though He was God and God Himself, He was truly Man – not some kind of Superman.
The Lord Jesus was frail – He could feel pain, suffering and loneliness.
He humbled Himself and became obedient to the Father to the point of death – not just any death – death on a cross! He didn’t die as a hero on a battlefield – they nailed Him to a cross! Hebrews 5:8 tells us: “Although He was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered.”
It boggles the mind that God the Son could go through that!
And so though in every way a man like you or me, while still the Son of God, He humbled Himself and obediently suffered and died on that cross. He looked out for the interests of others. What were our interests? We didn’t even know that we had them! We thought we were so cute and so perfect. Our interests are that God in His wrath remembers mercy, and that He bestows that mercy on us through the cross. That was our greatest need and He fulfilled it for us in Jesus. When He came to that cross, Jesus had our interests at heart. He knew that the wrath of God abides upon us, how terrible that was for people and that our chief interest was that we would experience grace and mercy, and so He came in the likeness of men, bearing our interests at heart.
He did it all for the sake of others – for the sake of the undeserving – for someone like you and someone like me!
He did it to bear our reproach, as Paul tells us in Romans 15. He was looking out for our interests. We have the mind of Christ if we are looking out for the interests of others. That’s how you know you have it – if we humble ourselves and even sacrifice ourselves if it’s in the interest of other people. 1 John 3:16: “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
- Highly exalted by God (vv 9-11)
Jesus is a good example of what the Scriptures says: He that humbles himself shall be exalted. No-one has ever humbled themselves like Jesus. That’s why no one can ever be more exalted than He is. He is highly exalted in two ways
a. In the present, He has exalted Jesus by giving Him the Name which is above any other name – the Name by which people must be saved – Jesus Christ. That’s how God the Father has exalted His Son in the present. His Name is revered by every believer, but hated by every villain. It is an exalted name.
b. In the future, at His Name every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (Rev 5:11-14).
Those who possess the mind of Christ will participate in that great future exaltation of Christ. The Lord’s done it so that we may share in His glory (Rom. 8, 2 Thess. 1).
We do have His mind – we need to just think with His mind.
The mind of Christ is a mind of humility, obedience, sacrifice and great reward (glory), and that’s the mind that we need in the time in which we life where everybody is living in fear and trepidation. One of the dangers of Covid-19 is that it makes us look out for our own interests more than ever before – I must just not get the virus! Look what we are sacrificing for that – cutting us off from other people and the fellowship of the saints.
We need to be careful that we don’t just look out for our own interests. We need to have the mind of Christ – a mind that lacks selfish ambition (conceit) and self-preservation. Even Christ had no thought for self-preservation when He went to the cross. We must look out also for the interest of others and not just our own, and if we do, we will share in His glory, because He has been highly exalted by God. His Name is exalted above any other name and in the future that name of the Saviour with that mind – at His Name every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He, and no-one else is Lord.