Advent: The Humility of Christ.

Philippians 2:1-11 says, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 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. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The attribute of humility, which was so clearly evidenced at the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ, is also to be seen within each believer who is in union with Christ. The reason for the demeanor of humility is due in no small part to the blessings God has given to each believer in Christ. What are these blessings?

To begin with, there is the believer’s encouragement in Christ. The word encouragement (παράκλησις; paraklesis) means to come alongside with help, counsel and exhortation. This is what Jesus does for each believer.

Second, there is the believer’s comfort from love. Comfort (παραμύθιον; paramythion) also means to encourage. The image is of Christ coming close to His disciples and whispering gentle and tender counseling words. This tenderness is rooted solely in the sacrificial love of God prompted by His grace.

Third, there is the believer’s participation in the Spirit. The word Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit. Participation (κοινωνία; koinonia) refers to a partnership of eternal life which God provides through the regeneration and indwelling ministry and presence of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s soul (I Corinthians 3:16; 12:1-13; 2 Corinthians 13:1-14; I John 1:4-6).

Fourth, there is the believer’s experience of God’s affection and His sympathy. Affection (σπλάγχνον; splanchnon) means to feel compassion. Sympathy (οἰκτιρμός; oiktirmos) means to show compassion. Since God demonstrated affection and sympathy to rebellious sinners such as us, then it stands to reason that we are to show the same to fellows believer’s in Christ. This is the Apostle Paul’s conclusion in vs. 2 when he writes, “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”

Believers, while different, are to think the same way regarding their treatment of each other. We are to demonstrate the same love which God demonstrated towards us (Romans 8:5-10).

The apostle’s concern for the church was that she should demonstrate a unity among believers. There should be no divisions while at the same there is to be a commitment to biblical truth. God’s Word must never be sacrificed for the sake of sentimentalism within the church. God’s Word should also never be sacrificed due to disagreements within the church.

How are believers to accomplish this unity among each other? Paul states that it begins with the biblical attitude of humility which is described in vs. 3. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” There is to be no pushing to have one’s own way, no desire for personal glory, but rather humility. Humility is defined as counting other people as more significant than you (Romans 12:10; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 5:21; I Peter 3:5).

In fact, in vs. 4 Paul goes on to say, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  This is not a directive to be a busybody but rather to genuinely care for one’s fellow believer.

Who provides the greatest example of humility? Jesus Christ, of course. When next we meet, we will see exactly how Jesus Christ demonstrated biblical humility. The description provides the church with one of its foremost hymns of praise.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

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