Live & Love Like Jesus | Philippians 2
I’ve always looked at this passage disjointedly, as a series of great truths strung together, quotable passages that inspire and encourage us. Reading it through today, however, I see a pattern, a theme, I hadn’t picked up before. Paul is writing about the greatest Man who ever lived and giving us His secret to success. And it is this – live a life that is more committed to others than to yourself. Live a life that lifts up someone else’s name over yours. Live a life that demonstrates the power of being lined up with God’s way of looking at people and God’s way of responding to them and God’s way of loving.
Here’s how Eugene Philips translates the first four verses:
If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care - then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
This is a sweet picture of how Jesus lived His life on this earth for the redemption, resolution, reconnection of all of us to His Father. He was sent on a heavenly mission, as an insurgent servant, living a life wholly devoted to His Father’s purpose - bringing men back to Him. He did this by putting that purpose, our redemption, above any temporal gain He could have sought (security, a place to live, a loyal following, a stable position, even respect).
Paul is telling us here to give up in order to gain (reflecting Phil 1:21). He is telling us that self-actualization is not the chief end (or supreme goal) of man. Rather, by pouring ourselves out “on the sacrifice and service” of the faith of others, we fulfill our place in God’s world – and we find joy in the suffering we’re called to (Phil 1:29 - There's far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There's also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting). And not wholly unlike for Jesus, God will honor that and take honor in that – “to the glorious honor of God the Father.”
Paul applies this truth to their (and our) experience by calling out 2 saints who modeled that sacrificial love for him and for them. First is Timothy, the devoted servant to Paul, one of his beloved disciples whom Paul considered a devoted son. How blessed to be a disciple of a faithful man, to see him in his strengths and struggles and to see God work out salvation in both their lives for His good pleasure – all in fear and trembling. Secondly, we see Epaphroditus, another saint and servant who, in travelling to Rome to bless Paul, almost died of an illness he contracted on the way. Here is a picture of not just love, but faithfulness. The Philippian church had entrusted him with a gift for Paul and he persevered, despite severe illness, to be faithful to his grace task. Lord, make me such a man! Paul wasn’t teaching theory here; he is able to demonstrate what he means by the reflection of Christ in these 2 men familiar to his readers. Let us hold men and women who model Christ (by serving others), as similar inspiration, following them as they follow Christ, but always looking to the perfect model, Jesus.
From the NASB (and The Message):
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, (Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.)
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, (He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.)
7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!)
8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death - and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion.)
9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, (Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever,)
10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (so that all created beings in heaven and on earth - even those long ago dead and buried - will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ,)
11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.)
Lord, indeed, make me such as these. I am too often the faithless one, my obedience and my loyalty like the morning cloud, like the dew which goes away early. Make me faithful to spend every hour, of each of these days you have given me, in your service, for your purposes, for the faith and service of your saints, and in a way that brings You the Glory You deserve.
“He must increase, but I must decrease”
(John the Baptist, John 3:30).
TOM ALBERS | Elder Chairman
Tom committed his life to Christ as a junior in high school in 1975. After moving to Austin in 1995, Tom and Cindy attended Hill Country Bible Church in Cedar Park before becoming part of the HCBC Pflugerville and Hutto Bible church plants. Tom serves as a Small Group Leader and in Youth ministry and in other ministry oversight roles. Tom and Cindy were married in 1986 and are parents to Will, Emily, Clare, Hannah and Nathan and grandparents to Owen.