Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

The Christmas Life: Humility (Philippians 2:5-11)


Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Well, let's turn our attention this morning to Philippians, chapter two, Philippians two, versus three through eleven. Philippians two verses three through verse eleven. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility, count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 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 made himself nothing, 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 to him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every Nie 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. May God bless his word to us. Please be seated. We're taking a little bit of break for the rest of the of December from the Romans and first chronicles, and to consider something I'm calling the Christmas life. I hope that's not too out of a phrase, but I think you'll you'll see where I'm I'm going with this. I want to consider the connections between what we might call the Christmas life and what we do call the Christian Life, particularly as it's centered around the incarnation. I'm you know what the incarnation is. It's a it's a big word. That means it describes what happened when the son of God became man, when he took on flesh, when he was born in the likeness of men, like this passage says. Today, or this morning. I'm why I'm want to focus on the theme of humility tonight, mere oracles. We think about humility in the Christmas life, various things might come to mind. There's certain ways we think about living during Christmas. Christmas certain expectations, certain hopes. We want families to be together, people to share and be generous, people to be focused on one another. These good things, and a lot of them, involve humility. It involves giving of ourselves, whether that's in gifts or hospitality, acts of service. All kinds of things. We consider the needs of others more than the needs of ourselves. Now, when we do this, and this is sort of the expectation of this season, you see, donations typically go up for nonprofits and families get together, more and more gifts are given, and this is an expectation of of the season. Of course, there are incongruities during this time of year, things that don't exactly fit, the drunken office party or the family...

...that won't talk to each other or all kinds of things. But even when these anti Christmas things, I'm not sure what to call them, but even when these things that sort of go against the socalled spirit of the holidays are maybe even more prevalent than the thing we're wishing for, and some ways that points out the truth all the more we feel like this isn't the way things should be. We want something different. Well, that's why we love Christmas. I'm there is this general cultural clarity in some ways that still aligns with what we might call the Christian life, this way in which we all in our society are desiring these good ends and these good things, humility included, this posture that a person takes upon themselves for the sake of loving, for the sake of serving, for the sake of giving and honoring others. For a particular time of the year, many, many people say, you know what, it's more important to be about others than it is to be about only me. One Great Christmas story, of course, that points this out is the Charles Dickens Christmas Carol, and we see at the beginning of that story Bob Cratchett asking for some time off work to be with his family, to take care of his son, and of course, screwed says no right, I'm important, I have a business to run. These things don't matter. I'm scrooge of aneazer. Scrooge has certain things and he doesn't see a Bob Cratchett for who he is and what he needs. E beneezer scrooge isn't thinking about others, he's thinking about himself and his own interests. At least that's how Charles Dickens wants us to see it. When you think about this example or many others, I want you to think in your own lives about what great humility has looked like in your own lives. Can you think of an example of someone who has lowered themselves for your sake. Maybe it was a professor who took you aside and spent some time with you and really helped you, or a boss or a CEO who told you here's the inside track you need to take. Or maybe it was a father or a mother who got down and on their knees and cared for you in your weakness. Think about your own acts of humility. What's the greatest act of humility that you've taken in your own life? What's the lowest that you have humbled yourself for the sake of another? What did it look like? How did it feel? Did it smell bad? Did anyone see you do it? With these things in mind, perhaps a particular picture of humility, an instance in your life. Let's turn now to consider the greatest act of humility, the greatest one of all, the one that's given to us here in this passage this morning. In Philippians too, it is the work of the son of God becoming man, becoming obedient even to the point of death, death on a cross. To understand humility, and Jesus is humility in particular. I'm going to look briefly at just three things. Who He was, what he became and why? First, who he was. Notice what Paul says in verse six. He says who, though he was in the form of God, did not count of quality with God, a thing to be grasped, but...

...made himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant. So you see these two parallel statements, right, the form of God, the form of a servant. Now, this word form is a word that can mean lots of different things, right. It can mean shape, and it doesn't mean that here. He doesn't mean that Jesus took on the shape of God and then took on the shape of a servant. Servants don't have particular shapes, right. There's all kinds of servants, all kinds of things. God, God in particular, doesn't have a shape. God is a spirit. What we have here being said is form is being used in the sense of essential attributes, right, the essential attributes of God. That's what Jesus had. He was in that, he was God, is another way to put it, because you can't have the essential attributes of God without being God. You can't have the glory of all things and of all time and of oneself pouring and radiating from oneself without being God. You can't be eternal and immutable and never changing and and all the rest without being God himself. So this isn't a way of saying that Jesus was somehow sort of in the way of God and then stopped being God. It's saying that he was God because there's no other way to have the form of God, to have the essential attributes of God, without being God. But it focuses not necessarily on his being God. Because of this contrast. He had the essential attributes, he had the form of God because he was going to do something. He was going to take the form of a servant. Now this wouldn't being that he would stop being divine, but it would mean that he would start being human. He would take on himself this form, he would take on himself human flesh. He would become a servant. Instead of being the one to whom all service was due, even though he was still divine, he would now become one who is called to serve. God in himself is not called to serve anyone, has no obligations to anyone except himself. But when Jesus became a servant, that changed in him. He took on these essential attributes of a servant to be one who is obligated not only to the father but to us in the kind, in the sense of his promise, in his desire to save us, he served us. You see a great picture of this. and John Thirteen, right before he goes to the cross, Jesus, goes and he gets down on his hands and knees and he washes the feet of his disciples. And Peter says, don't do this, and he says you can't be with me, you can't belong to me unless I wash your feet. Then I love what Peter says. He says wash my head in my hands, to go for the whole thing. I want to belong to you as an asside. What a great attitude of one who belongs to Christ to hear the word of the Lord and respond to it with such Gusto. But Anyway, the Lord Washes Peter's feed and all the disciples feed, even Judases, and he says to them, if you want to be my servants, you must do this kind of thing, you must serve other people, you must lower yourself and take on this form. Now this is important to note,...

...this contrast, because it really helps us understand the degree of Jesus's humility here. Remember that question I asked you earlier. What's the farthest distance you've traveled? What's the lowest which you've extended yourself? What is the greatest extent to which you've hidden your education or your knowledge for the sake of someone? What's the most that you've hidden? Perhaps your wealth, or you have given of your wealth for the sake of others, or your status or your personal gifts, all kinds of things you might mention. What's the most? Well, here we have the Almighty God of the Universe, who created all things. Being born of a woman in a manger, surrounded by animals, in a place that's not home, he became very low, born under the law, being a servant God. Emphasizes this in a second way. Not only was he in the form of God, not only did he have all the essential attributes of God, he didn't count equality with God a thing to be grasped. Here it seems that Paul is making this contrast with Adam. Adam was the son of God. Adam was made in God's image. Adam radiated his glory, albeit in different ways than the eternal son of God, the One Who had always been begotten, but in the in a similar way, both sons owed obedience to the father. But there's a big difference, isn't there? Adam did consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, and that's exactly what he did. He asserted himself as equal with God. He grasped for power, he sought to use his position that he had M to take what did not belong to him to grasp and to cling to, not beat, an obedient and son. Jesus, however, is the Eternally Begotten Son, did something entirely different. Instead of trying to lift himself up, he dropped himself down, instead of trying to glorify himself in his sonhood over the father, he was obedient. He was obedient and that's what he did. He be took on the form of a servant, he took on the likeness of man, human form. He humbled himself by becoming obedient. This reminds us of an important fact, that our salvation does not begin at Jesus's birth or the cross, or at any other point before that. You see that our salvation begins even from eternity, when the god of all the universe makes this decision, has in his will, these eternal will, that he will save a people for himself. And in this particular work, the son of God says, I will save this people, I will, I will become like them in order to save them. Now this great descension, we might call it, from the eternal all throne room of God. So this little tiny manger in Bethel him should be enough to imply. Jesus is great obedience and should be enough to imply that he would be obedient. But of course,... our fallen humanity it's not. We equate being sinful with being human. But Jesus, in his perfect humanity, protected from original sin, lived obediently. And so we see him acting here in when in a greater humility, not only in becoming human, but in becoming an obedient human. This is very different from us. We already find ourself in a ourselves in a place of humbleness or humiliation. In a positive sense. We are those who are made under God, right as first Peter was talking about earlier, as those who are under him. But here Jesus isn't merely human, he's obedient. He humbles himself in the one way none of us ever have. In a perfect way, he went lower in a sense than we even are because of obedience, and you consider this in every aspect of his life, even from the beginning of his ministry, Satan was tempting him, wasn't he? He was tempting him to grasp at that equality of God, to lift himself up, to take what belonged to him, to take what has promised apart from obedience. But Jesus again and again said no to Satan, that he would obey, that he would be obedient, he would go to the cross. And when he goes to the cross, we see that as well, he goes of his own volition, his own will. He's not pressed, he's not forced, even though he's under the command and control of the authorities. Throughout his ministry we see that it's according to his perfect will. Over and over again we hear him saying it is not time, it is not time, it is not time. And then there's the time approaches he says it is time, it is time, it is time. In this way, it's one way we see is Jesus sovereignly exercising this obedience and he goes to the cross for US willingly freely. Jesus, as a man, suffered many humbling things. He was deserted by his friends, he experienced hunger, he experienced pain unfairness. When we think of the incarnation, we often think of baby Jesus in the manger, and rightfully so. But Baby Jesus became Ms Man Jesus, and that hume and flesh that he takes on gets pressed with thorns, gets beaten with whips, gets nailed with nails, gets hung on a cross. That's what the incarnation means. Taking on human flesh means going to the cross, means suffering and suffering and suffering, and that's what Paul says here. This is the lodge. These are the logical steps Paul takes and that we should take in our minds when we think about the incarnation. Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not account equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on 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. Scriptures tell us why Jesus did this. When you think about the ways and you exercise humility, the ways in which you lowered yourself, it's fair to remember that you don't always do it for the best reasons. I don't always do them for the best reasons.

Sometimes we humble ourselves as a way to show off, as a way to get other people's respect. We call this false humility. Right, we even have a term for it, because it's prevalent enough people that lower themselves as a way to we have other phrases for this, right fish for compliments. Oh I'm nothing, oh I'm not a good person, oh I'm this or that, so that we can get those of course you are. Everyone loves you. Yada, Yada, Yad. We do it to get things back. We give it to prove a point. We could do. We exercise humility to show off and show how great we are, to show how humble we are. This is not the point. Jesus exercises humility to serve, to love, to honor and glorify the God, God, the father. He did it because he loves you, and that's what we see when Jesus gets down on his knees and washes the feet of his disciples, not just there in that great symbolic act, but throughout his life, when he overlooked their sins and bore under their weaknesses and explain to them again and again and again the things that they needed to hear. You think about how many times thoughts run through your mind like I don't deserve this, I shouldn't be in this position. Why should I be here? This person should be doing these things to me. I don't need to give up my time, my money, my whatever. That wasn't Jesus's attitude. He was humble, and he was humble for the right reasons. He was humble because of love. He served the servants, he saved the sinners, he came into the world to die, and all this, the Bible tells us. Jesus didn't lose anything ultimately, because in this God exalted him to the highest place that anyone could be exalted. He was exalted so that the entire world would bow to him 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. Now there's no way that we can exercise this kind of humility, and God is not going to raise you to the status of Jesus Christ if you do something nice for someone. But that's not the point. The point is that Jesus has done these things for you so that you can live your life in him and be exalted in Him and be forgiven in him, that you can then serve in him. Our goal isn't to become as exalted as Jesus Christ is to somehow sort of raised to the same level, but it's to live our lives in Jesus Christ and in that sense, be exalted in Him, to enjoy his glories, to know his humility. And that's why all of this humility that we're talking about, this humility that's desired and on display and hoped for it Christmas time, is so obviously not only important for the Christmas life and giving gifts and giving up your time and traveling and showing hospitality, but it's for all year round, isn't it? In the Christian life, because the incarnation is more than just a story that kind of fills out a particular time of year. It's the bedrock truth on which we are saved. It's something that applies not only... all of time, but all of life, and that's why Paul says it the way he says it here. He says he gives this command, let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours, in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, took on the form of a servant. Those who trust the incarnate son of God look to the one who has gone the distance from heaven to Earth, who has paid the price and done so in order to love. And so when he asks US and calls us to love others in the same way, to humble ourselves, it is, of course, the most fitting thing in the world, as those who act and live and love and serve and worship in the name of Jesus, to get down on our knees and serve those who are around us. So, when we hear the command to be humble, when we desire to be humble, when we desire for other people to show this kind of humility, let us remember the exist the great example of our Savior, to remember him, to believe in him and trust in him, for our salvation and then to follow him. Let us seek the humility that is fitting of the Christian life. Let us pray.

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