Second verse, same as the first. Once again, St. Paul has chosen to talk about love which is to talk about humility. There is so much to feast upon in this morning’s lesson that I wish I had two days or more. Perhaps the best advice I could give you would be to spend extra time meditating today, or better yet, commit part of this passage to memory. I’ve chosen to make Philippians 2:3-15 one of the passages that I have my kids at home memorize.
If you want to live a life of love, that is if you want to live a life in Christ and for Christ, then you’d better learn humility. “If there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,” (2:1) if there are to be any of the things that St. Paul has just communicated to the Philippians and to us, then we need to be of one mind, which is to say we’d better have the same love, which is the love of Christ.
How can we do this? By letting nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself (verse 3). Isn’t this the love and humility that St. Paul has just demonstrated to the Philippians by choosing to suffer on earth for them rather than to experience the joys of heaven? Wasn’t he doing nothing through selfishnesss but instead esteeming the Philippians better than himself? Isn’t this the very definition of Christian love? And wasn’t Paul in doing this looking out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others (verse 4)?
As excellent as Paul’s example is, there is an even more excellent example, and that is Jesus Christ Himself. Meditate with me for a moment on the humility, that is love, which Jesus Christ demonstrated for those who did not love Him. First, though He was God, He made Himself of no reputation. The One who was Heaven itself gave up heaven for earth – for your sake.
When Jesus came to earth, He didn’t come as an earthly king but as a baby, as the son of a laborer, and as a servant. This is why His disciples were so mistaken about Him, because they could not fathom such humility from the Messiah, much less from God Himself.
This God who became man then humbled Himself, and as I have often said, humility is virtually the same thing as love. He humbled himself to leave heaven; He humbled Himself to become a man; He humbled Himself to be born as a servant; He humbled Himself to die; and He humbled Himself to become obedient to point of death on the Cross.
This is how your God chose to come to you.
What is Paul’s conclusion? Actually, I think there are two. The first one is at the end of this passage, and it is this: that only after Christ humbled Himself was He exalted. Only after you humble yourself as He did will God exalt you, for God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. First must come the Cross of Good Friday, and only then the Resurrection of Easter Sunday.
The second conclusion is this: if Jesus Christ, who is God, came to you clothed with the nakedness of humility, then how should you come before both God and man? Paul’s second conclusion is at the beginning of this passage. Because your God came to you in humility, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
I’m not going to say much more because what I have said is already clear. If you want to be a Christian today, then go and practice humility. Go and practice love. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
Point for Meditation and Resolution:
Make a list of ways in which you have not emptied yourself, made yourself of no reputation, not esteemed others better than yourself, or not taken the life of a servant. Confess your sins to God and ask Him to choose one way for you to humble yourself before Him and others today.
Prayer: Father, I ask You to give me the mind of Your Son Jesus Christ today. Let me do nothing today through selfishness or ambition, but instead let me esteem others better than myself. Let me actively look out for the good of others and come before You as Your servant. Give me the mind and Spirit of Christ, that I may love as He first loved. Amen.
© 2015 Fr. Charles Erlandson