“Let your attitude to life be that of Jesus Christ himself. For he, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to his privileges as God’s equal, but stripped himself of every advantage by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born a man. And, plainly seen as a human being, he humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, to the point of death, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal.” Philippians 2:5-9 (J.B.Phillips)
A little review about Philippi. It was a prosperous, large city, heavily inhabited by retirees from the Roman army. They were enjoying the perks of the good life (think Palm Springs), including the services of their slaves. Possibly one person in every five was owned by someone else, an accepted practice in ancient times.
In Philippians 1:1 Paul introduced himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ. In the Greek manuscript that word is doulos. one who is devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests. As described in the Old Testament,
“But, suppose your servant says, ‘I will not leave you,’ because he loves you and your family, and he has done well with you. In that case, take an awl and push it through his earlobe into the door. After that, he will be your servant for life.”
This is the picture of a bondservant. He or she willingly takes the lower position to serve another for the rest of their life. They then receive a mark—perhaps an earring—that identifies them as belonging to the master. Wherever they go—whatever they do—they represent the interests of their master.
Jesus gives us the ultimate example. The one who stripped himself of his glory, and willingly put on the limitations of man. And he did it for Joy, the joy of paying our sin debt, the joy of presenting you and me without flaw to God the Father.
Paul exhorts, “Let this mind be in you” (KJV). Consent is needed. We don’t get the mind of Christ unless we are willing to receive it. In Jon Courson’s commentary on Philippians he writes
“One of the most important components in understanding joyful, successful Christianity is this: You cannot change your heart—but you can change your mind. Conversely, God can change your heart, but he won’t change your mind. Therefore, if I choose to change the way I think about a given situation, God will change my heart to follow suit. But if I do not choose to change my thoughts, God will not change my heart.”
Let this mind be in me…have the same attitude that Christ had. My choice. It’s the attitude with which I need to live. It’s how I need to view my purpose for taking up space on planet earth.
Jesus came as a man for one purpose: to provide salvation from sin. Every moment leading to Calvary was in service toward that end. He revealed the truth of God in what he said and did. He came as a servant. He considered others as worth the cost of self.
It’s human nature to please ourselves. That’s why we’re so vulnerable to Satan’s game plan—testing us in the big three: lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and pride of life. The battle is in our thoughts. They determine our choices.
“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7
Let this mind be in you… It takes our consent for God to change us. Will we submit…obey this direction? Will we live out our relationships and responsibilities by thinking of the needs of others first—without thinking
what’s in it for me?
when is it my turn?
What about my needs?
God has told us he has purpose and it’s way better than we think (Isaiah 55:9). The apostles James and Peter both exhorted believers to exercise humility—to willingly take a lower status.
“Humble yourselves before the LORD, and he will lift you up in honor.”
”So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.”
1 Peter 5:6
There is a “down” and there is an “up.” We take the lower position to serve and God lifts us up to a place of honor. That’s what’s in it for us. That’s when it’s our turn. That’s the promise that our needs will be met. There is joy in serving a purpose, in agreeing to the destiny God has for us. It takes our consent.
“Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 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: 9-11
by Marilyn Allison