“And consider the example that Jesus, the Anointed One, has set before us. Let his mindset become your motivation. He existed in the form of God, yet he gave no thought to seizing equality with God as his supreme prize. Instead he emptied himself of his outward glory but reducing himself to the form of a lowly servant. He became human! He humbled himself and became vulnerable, choosing to be revealed as a man and was obedient. He was a perfect example, even in his death –a criminal’s death by crucifixion!”
– Philippians 2:5-8 (The Passion Translation)
There are some words that we don’t like to hear. Those words are not appealing in this twenty-first century generation like “submission” and “humility”. When we think of humility, we often think that it requires allowing others to walk all over us but that is not always the case. Having a humble spirit is something to be admired and to seek. God certainly thinks so. Various passages of the Bible remind us of the promise of God to exalt those who will humble themselves.
Now, exaltation is definitely appealing. We all want to be exalted especially by God but if we are honest, we want it in our own terms and in our own time which often would be on this side of heaven.
I have read Philippians 2:5-8 more than I can possibly count. Yet, on a most recent time of meditation, as I looked at this passage once more, I was surprised by how much this Word demands of us. Yes, us: you and me. Off course, I include myself because God still has more work to do in me.
In Philippians 2:5-8, the apostle Paul addresses the subject of Christian humility and this he does by asking us to consider the example of Jesus. Now, you might think ‘well it’s Jesus off course he had it all together’. And surely enough, you would be correct in stating this. However, a closer look at this passage reminds us that while Jesus could have taken advantage of his divine connection with God, being equal with Him, he did not. Jesus never exploited his relationship with God nor his divine nature for any reason. Can you imagine? This is like us today being given a “superpower” of some kind and deciding not to use it. How many of us would quickly use that special card if we were given the chance? I know I probably would have used it a few times to have things my way. However, that’s not what Jesus did. Instead, our Savior decided to take the form of a mere human like us and become a servant: first a servant to God and then to us. Surely you did not forget how Jesus served at every turn even washing people’s feet.
Jesus could have used his divine connection to God to change many things. He could have even used it to get out of having to endure the cross yet he chose God’s will and God’s ways, even if it meant suffering a cruel and humiliating death. Remember, the cross was a humiliating form of death in those days and reserved for the worst kind of men alive (murderers, scoundrels, etc.). Could we be humble enough to go through that? Let’s not even go that far. Are we humble enough to remain quiet in a situation where we are dying to get our point across? Are we humble enough to not boast about our accomplishments to others and not try to pass it off as “look at how the Lord has blessed me “? [Insert certain attitude here, that attitude you use when you want to share with your Christian friends the amazing life you have, but you don’t want to sound prideful or boastful]
Are we humble enough to take the blame and shame for something we are not responsible for but we do so anyway for the greater good? This is what humility does. Consider how Abigail in 1 Samuel 25 takes the blame and shame for her husband Nabal’s foolish attitude even though she was not really to blame. Consider Jesus who lived a perfect life, was without sin yet took the blame and punishment for our sins, though he certainly did not deserve it. Those are examples of true humility. How do you measure up in the humility department? In what ways do you need to be more humble?
As I consider our times of prayer, I wonder if we too have not tried to exploit our connection with God to have our way. Verse six of Philippians 2, the Christian Standard Bible translation, says that Jesus “did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited” meaning something to try to take advantage of. Oh how often we come in prayer trying to exploit our relationship with God to have him answer our prayers in the way we desire! The cure for this dangerous disease is humility. We can pray boldly while remaining humble. Humility is also about recognizing that God knows best and will do what He considers best for us after we pray. We do not need to try to manipulate him in any way. First, manipulation does not work with God and second we will simply end up frustrated over unanswered prayers. On the other hand, if we maintain a humble, responsive heart towards God, He will answer our prayers (2 Chronicles 34:27).
Finally, when we come in prayer, we must like Jesus empty ourselves completely. As I read this scripture verse, I realized that Jesus in emptying himself was left void, void of himself to allow God to fill him. The Savior gave up his own personal desires in order to embrace the Father’s. He never considered himself. “Me,me,me” is not something you would have heard from Christ. Instead, you would hear “Your will be done”. Christ emptied himself of self, pride, arrogance, * and anything that could potentially be a hindrance to his relationship with the Father or a hindrance to completing his mission here on earth. Instead, he seized every opportunity to glorify the Father. That was his sole desire: glorifying the Father while saving humanity.
Likewise, we too need to empty ourselves of that which does not serve us so God may fill us with His Spirit, His fruit, and help us carry the mission He has for our lives. This must be the posture of our hearts as we pray: a posture of humility and emptiness. **
*none of these were ever found in Christ
** Emptiness is the absence of substance, removal of … In this context, it is the removal of anything which does not draw us to God.
Father, I know that I am selfish in nature. Please remove anything from me that is unlike you and may be a hindrance to answered prayers. Create in me a clean heart and please continue to mold me and make me new, chiseling away at the impurities of my being. Grant me a humble spirit and a responsive heart.
In Jesus’ name,
2 Chronicles 34:27