In Paul’s prayerful, affectionate, encouraging letter to the Philippians, we note 3 things.
- Our new life is ‘in the Spirit’. He encourages the church to take the mindset of Christ’s humble, self-giving ministry, as a pattern for their own. This is only possible due to their ‘participation in the Spirit’ (Phil. 2:1). In the words of an early hymn: “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” (Phil. 2:5-11).
- The self-humbling, self-emptying of God the Son, is not in order to become human. To become human is a wonderful matter. Rather, his humbling is in embracing the shame of sinful humanity, in the suffering and death of a Roman cross. Hebrews 2:9 says that Jesus was “crowned with glory and honour for the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone”. His crowning with glory and honour was not ‘because’ of what he underwent. Rather, He is King, for the purpose of this suffering. Do you embrace your sufferings, purposefully?
- It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). Through faith, and the reception of the Spirit of God, our lives have become the arena of God at work. At one time, there were highway signs saying, ‘Men at Work’. Our lives could have a sign up saying: ‘God at work’ in and through us.
Prayer: Dear God, our Father, we thank you that just as you were at work in the sufferings of Jesus on the cross, so too you are at work, by the Spirit, in every aspect of our lives, including, and even especially amidst our sufferings. Lord Jesus, we often don’t do suffering and humility very well. May we continue to rediscover the truth of your way of being truly human. Amen.
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