Joy Through Humility
Philippians Lesson 3
CENTRAL THEME: JOY THROUGH HUMILITY
INTRODUCTION: Sometimes Christians, falsely think that to be humble, is to be self-deprecating and that must require the absence of JOY. The two virtues are not mutually exclusive. To be humble is not to consider ourselves ‘unworthy’ and therefore not able to enjoy life. Jesus was the perfect example of humility yet He experienced great joy! For Jesus, humility was not about feeling inferior; He made some rather lofty claims about Himself. Rather, His humility was more a matter of putting others and their needs above His own.
HOW CAN LEADERSHIP QUALITIES LIKE BOLDNESS AND ASSERTIVENESS, CO-EXIST WITH HUMILITY IN THE SAME PERSON?
UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT
The concluding paragraph of the first chapter of Philippians contains an admonition for the readers to live “as it becometh the gospel” (Phil. 1:27). How fitting that during our Mission’s Conference we are reminded that in everything we do there should be a focus on the Gospel as we live our lives. This grand objective meant standing firmly united and working side by side for the spreading of our faith. It meant being willing to suffer for Christ (1:29). As we enter the first section of Philippians 2, we are reminded to follow the example of Jesus and humbly serve one another, placing the interests of others above our own selfish interests. This portion of Philippians reminds us that there can be NO JOY for the Christian who acts selfishly and puts himself above others. Other people can steal our JOY! The key verse in this section is Phil. 2:3 which reminds us that we must esteem others better than ourselves. Phil. 1 says that Christ must be first! Phil. 2 tells us that Others must be next! HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE WORD HUMILITY? IS IT A SIGN OF WEAKNESS TO PRACTICE HUMILITY? As we shall see, to have the mind of Christ does not mean that a Christian is to be passive and weak! It reveals a willingness to serve one another and consider the needs of others.
EXPLORE THE TEXT: PHILIPPIANS 2:1-15
Objective Statement: Believers find joy when they embrace humility in these four ways:
#1 – SUBMIT TO OTHERS (pHIL. 2:1-4)
1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
The sentence structure of the statements in vs. 1 is quite unique in the Greek language. Each phrase in the verse solicits a response in the affirmative. For example, it says, “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ,” and the implied response should be “And there is!” “If any comfort of love,” (and there is!), etc. That is how each statement should be understood! It is a very uncommon language structure. So in order for believers to form the basis for spiritual unity in the local church they should recognize and practice these four realities: “consolation in Christ” [finding comfort, or support through Jesus]; “comfort of love” [the loving assurance we find in our local body of Christ]; “fellowship of the Spirit” [allowing the Holy Spirit to direct our relationships within the local church; Galatians 5:22-23] and a combination of “bowels and mercies” [having emotional ties and tender hearts toward our fellow believers who have needs]. Every one of these prompts show how the humble servant of Jesus should respond to the needs of other people in the assembly.
In verse 2, Paul identified four factors that would fulfill his joy if they were found among his Philippian friends in Jesus. Each of these 4 is related to unity in the local church. WHAT ARE THE FOUR CHARACTERISTICS HE SITES THAT WILL LEAD TO UNITY? (Being “likeminded;” “having the same love;” being “of one accord;” being “of one mind.”) Let’s break each of these factors down. 1) Being “likeminded” is not a call for unity at all costs, especially at the cost of truth. The same thing must always be also the right thing. 2) Mutual love among believers is essential for maintaining unity, given the diversity of personalities represented in a congregation. Christian love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. When present in abundance and genuineness, members can get along with one another and prosper in church ministries. This kind of unity is much deeper than outward appearances; it has roots in the feelings or emotions of the heart. 3) From heart-based unity stems agreement on a singular goal. That goal includes doing the right thing in our relationships with others as well as pleasing God in what we choose to accomplish together. 4) Being of one mind carries with it idea of unity stemming from a single mindedness to work and serve together for the glory of the Lord. All these things result in joy and singleness of effort to humbly serve others.
In Verses 3-4, Paul petitions for unity in the church at Philippi by appealing to his desire that the church “Fulfill ye my joy” (vs. 2). He took it a step further to insist that the unity that produces joy puts its focus on others rather than on oneself. We are not to do any of these humble acts of service for personal recognition or glory (vs.3a). The prerequisite for focusing on others is the presence of humility in one’s own heart represented in the statement, “in lowliness of mind” (vs.3b). That humility is cultivated by considering others “better than themselves” (vs. 3). The outward evidence of humility is in the amount of time and effort in seeking the “things of others” in comparison to the attention given to one’s “own things” (vs. 4). The goal is honest and appropriate responsibility assumed for oneself, coupled with genuine and appropriate helpfulness to others. One is not to be neglected in favor of the other. Personal responsibility and humble service to others should be found together and should characterize all believers. WHAT EXAMPLES OF HUMBLE SERVICE TO OTHERS HAVE YOU OBSERVED OR HEARD ABOUT IN RECENT WEEKS?
#2 – FOLLOW CHRIST’S EXAMPLE (pHIL. 2:5-8)
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
These verses constitute some of the most eloquent expressions of the Jesus’ example of HUMILITY found anywhere in the Bible. When He became a man at the INCARNATION, Jesus had to condescend in a way that is beyond our comprehension. God becoming a servant in the appearance of men! INCONCEIVABLE! How far did God have to lower Himself to become a frail, weak, human? Well, He became a helpless baby! But in this example, Paul calls every true believer to the highest standard of mimicking Jesus when he says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (vs. 5). Even though Jesus was fully God and “equal with God” (vs. 6), He yielded that position to become a man. JESUS IS GOD! But He was thinking of others when He came to earth as a human! When Jesus thought of others, He became a “SERVANT!” WHAT DOES THE TERM SERVANT EVOKE IN YOUR EMOTIONS? Paul traces the steps in the humiliation of Christ. Notice them: 1) He emptied Himself, setting aside His own attributes as God! 2) He became a human being with a sinless physical body. 3) He used that body to become a servant. 4) He willing died on the cross to show His love. WHAT AMAZING GRACE! In the O.T. Jesus occasionally visited the earth in a temporary body to reveal some special truth to mankind [called a Christophany]. But when He was born in Bethlehem, He took on a permanent human body that would experience all the challenges of mankind, yet without sin. While in that body He was the God-Man; Deity and humanity united in one; and still He became a “SERVANT” to help OTHERS! Some people are willing to serve others if there is no cost involved. WHAT DID IT COST JESUS TO BE A TRUE SERVANT? EVERYTHING, EVEN HIS DEATH! This was not the death of a martyr but it was the death of the Savior! He willingly died on the cross for us! The person with the MIND OF CHRIST JESUS does not avoid sacrifice. Sacrifice and service go together if service is to be representative of true, biblical Christianity. “It is one of the paradoxes of the Christian life that the more we give, the more we receive; the more we sacrifice, the more God blesses” (Warren Wiersbe).
#3 – PUT CHRIST FIRST (pHIL. 2:9-11)
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
If verses 5-8 constitute some of the greatest verses in the Bible regarding the HUMILITY of Jesus, then verses 9-11 promise us the example of the greatest ELEVATION that will one day be recognized in the future! Now, that elevation has already taken place following the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. God, the Father, raised Jesus and “hath [present tense] highly exalted Him” (vs. 9). WHAT WAS IT THAT GOD GAVE JESUS THAT WAS ABOVE EVERY ONE ELSE? God made the NAME of JESUS the most highly exalted name in the Universe! Everything is tied to the NAME of Jesus. How do we get saved? We must call upon the NAME of JESUS; “For whosoever shall call upon the NAME of the Lord [JESUS] shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13). Romans 10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the LORD JESUS . . . .” So our personal salvation is directly tied to us calling out to the NAME that is above every name; JESUS! That is the only way anyone will ever get to heaven!
And one day, every human soul that has ever lived will acknowledge the fact; “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . . And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (vs. 10a-11). It will be the climax of all human history when God the Father will require every living being to submit to the truth that “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Many of us will do that with joy because we have already acknowledged that in our lifetime. But in that amazing moment of eternity, “every tongue should confess,” and the NAME of JESUS will be recognized as the greatest name in the Universe because only HE could REDEEM US! Those that are forced to announce this truth about the Lord, will then forever be cast out into eternal separation from God in the place prepared for the Devil and his angels; the Lake of Fire. Now, don’t miss the clear purpose why Jesus humbled Himself and “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (vs. 8). WHAT WAS THAT PURPOSE? Yes, to redeem us, but ultimately all these things happened and will happen, “to the glory of God the Father” (vs. 11b). PRAISE HIS NAME!
#4 – LIVE WITH CONSISTENCY (pHIL. 2:12-15)
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”
Paul addressed his friends as, “my beloved” as he pays them a high compliment. He applauded their devotion and obedience. And they didn’t do those things only when he was with them, but even more so after Paul had continued his missionary endeavors. Some people have gotten confused over the way the Greek language uses the phrase, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (vs. 12c). The Apostle’s words about working out their salvation was not given as the way they would gain that salvation, but as their obligation to apply it to their individual lives and to their relationships in the church and community. This focus on the “working out” meant they were exhorted to demonstrate outwardly their saving relationship with Christ in attitudes and actions, in speech and manner of loving, as well as in deeds of kindness and helpfulness toward one another and towards outsiders. The idea of “with fear and trembling” speaks to the serious gravity of our testimonies being always on display with our salvation and relationship with Jesus always in our consciousness.
Actually, our “working out” this salvation, is best explained, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (vs. 13). God is the One enabling every believer to have a testimony before others. His divine enablement gives us the desire to be obedient as well as the power to perform that desire. Paul then, once again, expresses his encouragement for the Philippian believers to live in unity when he says, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings:” (vs. 14). He goes on to explain why they should be unified, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God” (vs. 15a). Don’t those words invoke the theme of HUMILITY? Let’s esteem other people better than ourselves, live a righteous testimony before those who do not know Jesus, especially, “without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation,” (vs. 15b). So as God works in us to do His will and His good pleasure, Paul acknowledges that we are in a depraved world. DON’T PAUL’S WORDS IN VS. 15, SOUND LIKE OUR AGE? How are we to possibly have a sterling testimony in a dark world like that? The answer is found at the end of verse 15, “among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” That is why our Mission’s Conference is so vital for us to continue shining our lights to people who are unaware of the Gospel of Jesus; especially as we see the day approaching (i.e., the Day of Jesus’ Return). As we attempt to live our lives with humility and in unity, we have been challenged to follow our supreme example; JESUS! If our Church works together, esteems other people more important, exalts the name of Jesus for the Glory of God, let our lights shine brightly in a dark world, we can have an IMPACT ON THE CAUSE OF WORLDWIDE MISSIONS!
CONSIDER NOW HOW YOU CAN HAVE MORE FAITH NEXT YEAR TO REACH MORE PEOPLE WITH THE MESSAGE OF SALVATION THROUGH THE GOSPEL!
Remember our Objective Statement: Believers find joy when they embrace humility in these four ways: