The attitude of Christ – Philippians 2:1-13

The attitude of Christ – Philippians 2:1-13

By Pastor Lee Hemen

February 28, 2016

Mentorship is important in life and whether we like it or not we tend to emulate those who raised us or had the greatest influence on our life. In today’s world far too often believers have allowed society to dictate how they are to live their lives instead of their faith in Christ. My father taught me that how you treat others and what you do when you are alone says a lot about your character. He would remind us that whether we were at home or away we should remain consistent in our lives and whatever we did would reflect on our entire family, and especially how we were raised.

What does your actions whether in church or away from other believers say about your faith in Jesus? Faith is not just how you feel about yourself, it is the reflection of Jesus you mirror for the world around you and how you influence and impact it. The Bible makes very clear as Christians, followers of Jesus we should influence the world around them. We are to live as Christ. Peter wrote that we as believers should live “as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:11-12 NIV) Paul would say we should have the attitude of Christ. Let’s see what this means…

READ: Philippians 2:1-13

Again, how we live our lives says a lot about what we believe. If we live inconsistent lives that reflect self-centeredness then we are telling others we are hypocritical about our faith. In fact…

I. The encouragement of Jesus should compel us to care for others! (Vv. 1-4)

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

1. What many believers in our day and age have forgotten is exactly what Paul was encouraging first century believers to do, namely, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (Philippians 1:27 NIV) We are to live as Jesus, period! What others dictate to us, the world’s proclivities, or the latest societal fad should never compel us to live our lives in any other way except the way Jesus would. So Paul continues by telling us, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” Of course we do have these encouragements, comforts, fellowship, tenderness, and compassion! Paul’s joy and ours as well is made complete by being “like-minded” with Jesus! When we are we share the fellowship of the Holy Spirit living in each of us as believers! Paul was imprisoned and faced his immediate death and he knew that every believer has to face trials in their lives as well; therefore he desired that above all else that they live their lives for Jesus! Nothing else mattered in life. Nothing should. We often forget while living our lives that Jesus indeed matters and that not only has it “been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him”, but we are “also to suffer for him”! (v. 1:29) Our spiritual unity is possible because of the reality of the four qualities mentioned by Paul: encouragement, comfort, fellowship of the Holy Spirit, and tender compassion. Our “joy [is made] complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” Therefore, Paul relates we should “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” The encouragement of Jesus should compel us to care for others!

EXAMPLE: My mother grabbed me because I was smaller and held up an arm and leg to stop my brother from attacking me again; and after she had gotten us separated, calmed down, and in our separate corners she began to ask us “what in the world did we think we were doing”. Of course we declared our complete and total innocence and that it was “his fault”. Mom told us that we were to treat one another as brothers should treat one another; which of course is what we thought we were doing. She patiently explained that brothers should care and love one another and some day, hopefully, we would understand this better. Because we are brothers and sisters in Christ the encouragement of Jesus should compel us to care for others!

John Donne the poet wrote the familiar words, “Any man’s death diminishes me, Because I am involved in mankind, And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” He also wrote, “No man is an island”, meaning that we each should realize that we belong to one another. Sadly we often put ourselves first and yet Paul reminds us that…

II. We should consider ourselves as nothing! (Vv. 5-8)

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

1. In a society where most of us live our every waking moment in order to please ourselves, sacrifice is a foreign word. Our culture does everything it possibly can in order to promote, encourage, and glorify selfishness. It has made us not only skeptical of everyone and everything; it has made us into self-centered narcissists. Young or old, rich or poor, or any ethnicity “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”  Paul meant we should be “like-minded”. If the Creator of the entire universe was more than willing to sacrifice his “equality” with God, his very God-nature, and make himself nothing, shouldn’t we? If God himself can become a human being and willingly become one of us, shouldn’t we be willing to set our selfishness and self-centeredness aside? One would think so, but how often do we struggle with this? Paul understood this concept and tells fellow believers “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV) In fact all the disciples understood this concept and Peter would remind us that “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21 NIV) And John wrote, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6 NIV) How could we as believers in Jesus forget the very fact that Jesus “being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross” for us!” Nothing compares to that, nothing! And therefore, because of all this, we should consider ourselves as nothing!

EXAMPLE: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes are a punk rock cover band formed in 1995. The band is named after a children’s book of the same name. It reflects the childish attitude of selfishness and how we are to share. For some this is a difficult concept. At school I brought out a brand new basketball and when I did, an impish fifth grade girl immediately asked for it and of course a fifth grade boy was mad she got to use it first. My solution was that they “share”. Of course this went over like a lead balloon because both of them wanted to use it their way and not the way the other one wanted to. So I solved the problem by giving it to a third child and neither one of them got to use it first. Paul taught that whatever we did in life we should do it to glorify God. He taught, “I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” (1 Corinthians 10:33 NIV) In our lives we should consider ourselves as nothing!

How can we do this? For us it is difficult thing to do because our very natures tell us every waking moment to protect ourselves, live for ourselves, and do everything in life for ourselves. However the very nature of Christ is in conflict with this old nature and its habits, therefore…

III. In everything we do we should give Jesus first place! (Vv. 9-13) 

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 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. Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

1. Interestingly the first five verses we looked at deal with the attributes of the Holy Spirit, the second section of four verses deal with Jesus the Son, and these next three verses (9-11) deal with God the Father. And here in this transitional statement Paul begins to qualify exactly who Jesus is and why he did what he did for us. This is why Paul writes “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 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.” Make no mistake, Jesus is God. It is important to understand that when Paul wrote that Jesus in considering his “very nature [as] God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped” he did not mean something Jesus wanted to achieved or that it was something Jesus to hold on to but rather something Jesus willingly let go of. He gladly let go of his nature as God to be born a man and in doing so he was exalted as Lord to the glory of God! Because of Jesus’ willingness Paul writes, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. We do not earn God’s favor nor do we earn brownie points for being the Christians we are supposed be, rather we willingly “work out” our “salvation with fear and trembling” as we live for Jesus! Again, as Paul reminds us, “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” In everything we do we should give Jesus first place!

EXAMPLE: We all like to be first; first in line, first to be served, first place in sports, or considered first for promotion or acceptance. Yet we find Jesus teaching us that, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35 NIV) In fact if we desire to live in Jesus we must be willing to humble ourselves, and when we do God “gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'” This is why James would write, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4:6-8 NIV) God is nearest to us when we willingly give him all of us! In everything we do we should give Jesus first place!

Conclusion:

The encouragement of Jesus should compel us to care for others! We should consider ourselves as nothing! In everything we do we should give Jesus first place!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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