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.
Paul was writing from prison. His crime? Serving Jesus. And in the middle of this dark, painful, unfair place, Paul was reminding the Philippians that their lives should carry the continual aroma of Christ no matter their circumstances.
He started this second chapter by asking them questions, then progressed to his challenges to them. And he could make them, couldn't he? After all, he was exhibiting the attitude and example of Christ in a prison cell. Surely they could do it as free men.
"Agree with each other... Love one another… Work together… Don't be selfish… Don't try to impress others… Be humble… Think of others as better than yourselves… Don't look out for your own interests, but take an interest in others too."
These are challenging words—and they were coming from an imprisoned man.
But he was about to make the stakes even higher, the contrast even greater, by bringing Christ into the picture. He reminded them that Jesus was God, yet even Jesus didn't see equality with God as something to be grasped. No, He gave up all the privileges of divinity and humbled Himself to the point of slave. He became a human. He obeyed to die a criminal's death.
Paul knew they might be able to find an argument with him, a way to discount his imprisonment. Maybe he got special treatment. Maybe he was in solitary and didn't even have to deal with people. So he was removing all of the elements of argument.
He brought in the price and humility that Jesus was willing to endure in order to associate with and understand the remnants of our world, the pains of our heart, the hurts of our story, the victories of our successes. How could they argue with Jesus?
Then he reminded them that one day every knee would bow and every tongue would confess that Jesus is Lord, this same Jesus that he was asking them to be a reflection of, because one day they would be face to face with Him and would have to give an account of the reflection they had been.
People often say that nothing teaches you how to serve more quickly or more powerfully than having children. I was 40 years old and had never had children of my own when I married a man who had five and became the bonus-mom to five in one fell swoop.
All of a sudden, snatchers invaded the quiet world that had been mine. They snatched for my curling iron and my clothes and my food, and I was instantly confronted with how selfish I really was. "It's mine!" I wanted to scream.
Then there were the pains of my heart. I often say those who have been divorced know why God hates it. It’s not His plan and leaves extended brokenness in its wake. A bonus-mom can be a great target for pain, and in that pain I learned the comfort of His love and the encouragement He brings.
What are the places in your life? Those selfish places that are pricked? Is it when the church talks about tithing? When the boss needs an extra hour or two? When the spouse needs that load of laundry done and you thought you were finished?
What pricks at your need for comfort? The spouse that hasn't come yet and you are still praying for? The bills that you can't pay? The child that won't surrender to God's plan?
Our attitude in these situations can be a reflection of Him, an example of the Christ who dwells in us. And it matters. It matters because one day we will bow our knee to the Jesus who humbled Himself for us. There is a “place” now asking for our Jesus, and the only way they will encounter Him is through the attitude and example of our hearts.
- Jesus didn't wait to be asked to serve. He served because it was in Him. He also served knowing He might never be served in return. Look for a way today that you can serve without being asked. And be willing to serve without receiving anything in return except for the beautiful assurance that God sees and He is pleased.
- The next time you are asked to do an act of service — help a friend, watch a neighbor's child, serve at the church, work an extra shift — just stop and ask The Lord what He is asking of you in this moment. It may be that this isn't the right thing, or it may be that He is giving you the opportunity to truly reflect His attitude and His heart.
- Take the next week and document people and ways in which you have been served. Sometimes truly paying attention to how we have been served impacts us and creates a sense of gratitude and a heart of service. Then pray for those who have served you, asking God to bless them and pour back into their lives.