“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus . . . Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:3-16 (NIV)
Humility is not generally thought of as much in relation to a community as in relation to an individual person. However, we must remember that a community is made up of individual people! When we repent and believe in Christ, we become a part of God’s family; sons and daughters of the King (John 1:12)! Therefore, the body of Christ, being made up of individual and unique children of God, will collectively take on the same attributes as Christ with the hope of reflecting Him to the world! With this understanding, we can more clearly comprehend what it means to be a humble community.
This passage reminds me of nearly every effective pre-game pep talk. Nearly all of them contain the following: a call to action and a greater purpose. In the football-and-family classic, The Blind Side, Mrs. Leigh Anne Tuohy, who takes in Michael Oher as her own, inspires him to play better by reminding him that his team is like his family which he needs to protect. The call to action is tackling and defending while the greater purpose is to protect his family!
Paul is essentially doing the same in this letter. He first gives them the call to action, which is to “value others above yourselves” and look out for the interests of others. Before continuing to debrief what this looks like practically, Paul points them to the example of Jesus! Through the following six verses, he writes of Christ’s humility as He temporarily surrendered His heavenly privileges of holy glory, independent authority, divine riches, and even His perfect relationship with the Father while He bore our sin on the cross. Even more than the perfect example of what humility looks like, though, this description also instills in us a wonderful and overwhelming gratitude in which we can only respond with the desire to obey and submit to Christ, just like all of creation one day will. This is our greater purpose!
In verse 12, Paul returns to his original call to action, except he speaks of it in different terms as he says “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” This is because in view of Christ’s humble sacrifice we seek to love and honor Him through obeying Him and becoming more like Him! As we pursue this, we shall also sow and reap of the fruit of humility, which only through the power and grace of God will allow us to become “blameless and pure . . . in a warped and crooked generation . . . shin[ing] among them as stars in the sky as [we] hold firmly to the word of life.” In view of this, may we seek to be a humble community that loves and reflects Jesus well!
PAUSE: How have you pursued humility in your community of believers?
PRACTICE: Value someone else’s interests above your own today and try to do so with a truly thankful heart fixed on the humble sacrifice of Christ!
PRAY: Jesus, thank You for being the perfectly humble example to us. Thank You that in Your humility, You obeyed Your Father and sacrificed Yourself on our behalf! You made a way when there would be no way otherwise, and because of that, we can now be in a relationship with You and with Your other children. I ask that You would help us to pursue a humble community just as You pursued us so humbly. In Your name I pray, Amen!