1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. 3 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,
6 who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be used for His own advantage.
7 Instead He emptied Himself
by assuming the form of a slave,
taking on the likeness of men.
And when He had come as a man
in His external form,
8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross.
9 For this reason God highly exalted Him
and gave Him the name
that is above every name,
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 —
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name…
“Attitude reflects leadership…” my friend’s coaches would often repeat over and over, speaking of his days as a high school athlete. It was a phrase spoken to the leaders on the team as well as a way for the coaches to hold themselves accountable.
You see, these coaches understood a very important principle: our lives often reflect those that we look to for leadership.
We all know this intuitively. Many of us have worked for horrible bosses. As a result, we’ve found our attitudes increasingly belligerent, negative, and rebellious. The inverse is true as well. When we’re led by capable, caring, and courageous leaders, our attitudes emulate those commendable traits.
In today’s text, Paul reminds believers to emulate the greatest leader of all time. That leader wasn’t a coach, boss, or president. In fact, He never held an earthly title. But, Philippians 2 reminds us that He was the very Son of God in human flesh.
This text is perhaps one of the richest theological treatments of the identity of Jesus in the New Testament. In it we discover that Jesus was fully human, fully divine, and yet He willingly gave Himself over to death for the benefit of reckless and rebellious men and women.
Verse 5 is often quoted as a catch-all phrase to summarize the Christian life, as well it should be. But I’d like to take a closer look at verse 9 and discover why verse 5 is impossible without the reality of the verses that follow.
You see, it’s popular in our day for some in the Christian world to focus on the example of Jesus and neglect, if not outright deny, the power and significance of His death and resurrection. Time and space don’t permit a firm defense of the substitutionary death of Jesus on our behalf.
But if you’d like a detour from this passage, consult the books of Hebrews and 1 John to put to rest any notion that Jesus death was anything less than a propitiation of the wrath of God on our behalf. And this is precisely what verse 9 tells us. We must realize that Jesus was exalted not only for the life He lived but moreover because of the death He died.
The only hope you and I have of living out Philippians 2:5 is by embracing verses 6-11. We must never forget that our obedience is only made possible by Christ’s obedience on our behalf. The radical obedience that led Him to the cross and the anguish He endured there is the only fuel for our subsequent obedience to God.
To use a worn-out phrase, “don’t put the cart before the horse” when it comes to obeying God and try this obedience thing in our own power. Instead, proclaim that only by believing in the finished work of Christ and trusting in Him for salvation are we able to live in a way that pleases God and brings us ultimate joy.
Remember, attitude reflects leadership. So remember Who you follow.
- Renew your commitment to be like Jesus by returning to the fundamental truth that the power to obey is only available in the surrender of belief.
- Given what Christ has done on your behalf, in what ways do you need to make your attitude the same as Christ Jesus?
- Are there those around you who are on the treadmill of self-powered obedience? How will you help them see that all their efforts to reach God are in vain apart from the saving work of Christ?