The Humility Expectation

God became a Man and died in one of the most humiliating ways- crucifixion. 

On the backdrop of telling believers to behave as a “Gospel citizen” (like a foreigner who wants to represent his home-country well) Paul writes the Christians in Philippi,
“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, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:3-11 ESV


A Selfless Life

Predicated on the basis of being a Gospel citizen, Paul tells the Philippian Christians (and all believers)
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Phil 2:3
The idea of doing nothing selfishly and esteeming others more highly than oneself is so opposite to the western values of self-praise and is so hard to do. Paul is saying that Christians should not do anything from selfish motives- that is no action in a Christian’s life should seek to promote oneself. Rather consider others more important. Christians should live differently than the world, instead seeking the goodwill of others and not seeking one’s own self-advancement.
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Phil 2:4
Notice Paul does not advocate for a lifestyle of self-neglect. He fully acknowledges that a Christian can and must look to their own interests (provided it is not with selfish motives). It is not that a person shouldn’t seek their own goodwill, but they should also seek the advancement of others. 

The Jesus Way

“Let this mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus…” (Berean Literal Translation with my own input) Phil 2:5
“This” is referring to the previous statement of not seeking self-advancement, but rather seeking the interests of others. Jesus Christ, who was not only God but a man, had the mindset of seeking others interests first. Then Paul explains how Jesus was humble in what is known as the “Christ Hymn”.
“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”
In the mythologies of surrounding cultures, gods among mankind used their position of power to accomplish their own motives. Jesus, being fully God and man, had the power to using his Godhood for his own self-advancement (Satan offered him many things Jesus may have been entitled to in his temptation see Matt 4:1-11). Instead, Jesus denied himself anything for his own benefit and “morphed” into a servant.
“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Jesus was fully God and by very definition immortal. Jesus humbled himself, not thinking himself too good to die, the very contradiction of his immortality (Jhn 13:1, Heb 12:2. Not only did Jesus not think himself too good to die for people worth less than himself, he died on a cross- one of the most humiliating and most painful ways to die in history. 

Go Down to Go Up

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
This is the key portrayal of a biblical concept called, “divine reversal of fortunes”.  Jesus said something very similar to this,
“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matt 23:12, Lk 14:11, Lk 18:14 cf Prov 29:23, 1 Peter 5:6 (see Matt 16:25 and parallel for divine reversal in Salvation).
This is one of the universe’s greatest oxymorons: humility is the pathway to being praised (sometimes by people, but perhaps in ways we do not understand- a surprise is exciting, because we are unaware of what it is). Jesus had the greatest humility ever- he went from the absolute highest position in the universe, to submitting himself to death and becoming a homeless servant. 


A Hero to Remember

So often we approach Jesus' life only from the perspective that he is God, but we forget he was also fully Man. As a man, Jesus chose to be humble. We remember great people of the past and choose to honor their life and legacy. Jesus was the greatest hero who has ever lived on this Earth and he should be honored in our lives and is being honored right now in Heaven
When we return to the beginning of the passage, especially verse 5,  we discover a startling truth: the humble behavior of Jesus is not only an example, nor just the exception. It is the expectation of believers,
“....Let this mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus
Jesus had a mindset of selfless humility, not thinking himself better than anyone else. Instead, he lived a life dedicated to serving others and did nothing for self-gain. Jesus had this mindset and we should too. Only then will we receive the honor that we desire.  

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