Philippians 2:5-11.

To be Christ-like (5) is at the core of what it means to conduct yourselves ‘’in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.’’ (1:27). It’s been said that Paul regularly ‘’uses a steam hammer to crack a nut’’ and here he takes the profound doctrine of the incarnation and uses it to make a practical point about Christian behaviour. Here are some elements of a Christ-like attitude:

You don’t cling on to status or any perceived rights (6): If doing the will of God means letting go of these things, then you will gladly do so, trusting the Lord to take care of you. There are times when we must choose the path of relinquishment. ‘’He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.’’ The Message.

Humility (7, 8a): If you struggle to put yourself in a place where you are considered ‘’nothing’’ (at least, ‘nothing’ great in this world’s estimation), just think what this was like for God Most High in the Person of His Son. If humble service was not beneath the Son of God, it should not be beneath you and me. Someone said that the ‘flesh’ hates service, and, even more, screams against secret service. But we needed to understand that the highest position on offer in the Kingdom of God is that of a servant. How humbling it must have been for the second Person of the Trinity to lay aside His glory and be ‘’made in human likeness’’; to be ‘’found in appearance as a man’’ (7b/8a). There is a translation of (7a) that reads that He ‘’emptied himself’’. Theologians have debated what this means, and still do. The answer seems to be that He did not empty Himself of His God-hood (His divinity), but of His glory. As someone said, ‘’He did not empty Himself of His deity, but emptied Himself into humanity.’’

Willingness to die (8b): As a Christian you have got to learn to die. These may be the most important words in today’s thought. Jesus’ obedience to God was to the extent of dying. Submission to God’s will cost Him His life. That’s what Paul is saying. And it was such a terrible death – so shameful and barbarous. It was the worst form of cruel torture this fallen world has ever invented. But Jesus’ obedience was so total that He went through with that. ‘’He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death – and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion.’’ The Message.

Realise, then:

  1. That you are into something that could cost you your life;
  2. That you are into something that does cost you your life (quite apart from physical death.) Even if you are not killed for your faith you will have to die a thousand deaths, and more, to live this Christian life: death to pride, position, ego, social status, reputation, and the like.

But if we give up our honour for Jesus, we can know that it is safe in the Father’s Hands. God will honour those who honour Him (9-11). The pattern we see in God’s dealings with His humble, sacrificing, servant-like Son will find a parallel in the lives of believers who follow the pathway of Christ (James 5:10; 1 Peter 5:6). However our focus should not be on receiving any honour, but on serving God with humble, sacrificially obedient lives.

Prayer: Lord make me like you.