A LIFE OF HUMILITY IS A CHRIST EXALTED LIFE
What is humility? I can tell you want it’s not! It’s not entitlement, which seeks this world and others that it, or they, owes you something.
You owe me by looking at me a certain way when I walk into a room.
You owe me to have my coffee ready when I wake up in the morning.
You owe me to have my supper on the table and ready to eat after I come home from a hard day’s work.
You owe me the respect I deserve for who I am and what I do for you all.
See Humility is….
It’s not looking for the limelight.
It’s not making oneself known among a group of people.
It’s not seeking the praises and acknowledgement when they do something.
It doesn’t want to be the center of attention for everything.
It’s not being as Brian Regan the comedian says “A me monster; it’s all about me”
Humility is a freedom from pride and arrogance; a humbleness of mind; a modest estimate of one's own worth.
I like how Gary Inrig explains humility “If I try to make myself as small as I can, I'll never become humble. Humility comes when I stand as tall as I can, and look at all of my strengths, and the reality about me, but I put myself alongside Jesus Christ. And it's there, when I humble myself before Him, and realize the assumness of who he is, and I accept God's estimate of myself, and I stop being fooled about myself, and I stop being impressed with myself, that I begin to learn humility.”
Andrew Murray the great puritan preacher said “Humility is perfect quietness of heart….It is to be at rest when nobody praises me and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace as in a deep sea of calmness when all around is trouble. It is the fruit of the Lord Jesus Christ’s redemptive work on Calvary’s cross, manifested in those of His own who are definitely subject to the Holy Spirit.”
This is what Paul is trying to convey to the church and the readers of this passage.
Paul opens with a series of “If” statements that may be better understood as “Since” statements or “Because” statements. (v1) Paul says “if” or “since” this is referring to certainties, not possibilities, this is what binds us together.
We can walk in unity
We work as a team
We can stand fast in a broken world
We walk worthy of the Gospel
We can magnify Christ in our lives
We can realize that whether by death or life, Christ is my ultimate joy each and every day!
All together these statements remind and motivate the child of God about the love that binds the church together. It begins here in the opening verses of this chapter. (v1-v5)
See Paul is saying ….
We have the blessing of knowing Christ and being found by Him with His everlasting love. We have the blessing of being loved by Him and the mutual love we have through the Spirit to love one another though the gospel. We are blessed into the fellowship “Koinonia” the partnership into the gospel that saves and keeps you to very end. We are blessed to share our tenderness and mercy with each other as we look out for each other’s interests. As Paul said previously “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.” Phil 1:27-30
The world system doesn’t like that! See the world at large views humility a sign of weakness! The world considers Humility something to be laughed at or something to be ashamed of. The world doesn’t consider Humility worthy to be taught to our children; instead we should stand up for ourselves and fight back. The world considers Humility something to mock or make fun of. But that’s not true by what we read here in this letter!
Paul gives the charge or the battle cry for the importance of unity in church. As Paul says the unity of the church does something “complete my joy” (v2) As I said last week the pastor’s joy is made complete when the children of God are walking, caring and growing in grace as the church is strengthened in the good and in the bad of times. This isn’t a selfish thing, or prideful thing, to feel this way as Paul did, towards the children of God as a shepherd. John was encouraged the same way as Paul “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4. As parents or guardians over a child you know this as well. Prov 10: 1 says “A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.” As a pastor and as a parent our joy is made “full” or “complete” to see the child walking in maturity and growing as children.
What does a Christ exalted life look like
that completes Paul’s joy?
Paul answers first with what isn’t a Christ exalted life. “let nothing be done through selfishness” (v3)
“Selfishness” regarding one's own interest chiefly or solely; influenced in actions by a view to private advantage. It expresses a negative command; selfishness is a consuming and destructive sin. Why is selfishness a problem and sinful? Paul said this to Timothy “..... that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,” 2 Tim 3:1-2. It leads to destructive behaviour and anarchy. Look at the culture around us to the “Woke Movement” (social justice warriors) to the Antifa militant groups who want people to conform to ideology and causes. Selfishness is a major stumbling block, or problem to walking in humility. It’s that I don’t care attitude about anyone else other than yourselves and it doesn’t matter who gets hurt in the process.
Paul also gives another negative “Empty Conceit” (v3)
“Empty Conceit” is empty glorying, that is, self-importance, vainglory, and self regard, or arrogant pride. Paul was warning them not to have pride and vain glory attitudes. The reason Paul mentions this… Because this behaviour easily injures or destroys the comfort and harmony of the saints, which in the end leads to an unhealthy Church. It’s you seeking the glory over God and stepping on anyone who gets in your way. It’s that look at me attitude! Look at how spiritual I am and what I do for this church, attitude. It wants to be recognized with everything they do. Jesus said “For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.” Matt 6:5. What are we to do? Serve quietly giving all the glory to God. Paul said “…that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,” 1 Tim 2:2-3. What I find great about this passage is that Paul structures his letter by the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit! What do I mean? Paul starts off with the offensive, distasteful remarks first, and then he comes in with something that edifies the saints It’s like asking someone comes in and says “Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” Answer is usually the bad news first then the good!
Paul turns to the characteristics of what a Christ exalted humbled life truly looks. (v3b-5)
“Humility of Mind” (v3b) this is the very opposite of selfish ambition and empty conceit. Humility of mind means “a lowliness of mind, gentleness” Humility of mind is a dominant virtue or passion in the Old Testament. Moses was a man of great humility. “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” Numbers 12:3. David spoke of the importance of humility of mind “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.” Psalm 37:11. Solomon, David’s son wrote about the importance of Humility of mind “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” Prov 11:2. James, the Half Brother of the Lord Jesus Christ wrote “But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6
A Christ exalted life goes beyond humility of mind, it comes out in action towards others. (v4)
Paul then goes on to say by building up his last statement! “Esteem others” Don’t merely look out for your own personal interests but look out for the interest of others. This means “to observe, to give close attention and special consideration”
Personal Interest can be very destructive to a church:
It causes disharmony and dysfunction.
It causes disunity and mistrust amoung the family of God.
It causes heart breaking, (church splitting), results among fellow believers.
So we are not to do that! Plain and simple we are to look at what Paul writes here! “The interest of others” means we are to take notice of others; to acknowledge each other, which is the way to submit to one another in the fear of God, and to promote truth, friendship, and love among the church body.” As Paul wrote the church in Corinth “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Cor 12:26. If one member of this church is suffering or hurting, we all suffer and hurt with him or her. Paul says all this so that we are without excuse or the famous “but” comeback rebuttal statement. There is no room for our excuses when it comes to the matter of humility especially in the Christian life, or the local church, for that matter. Why? Paul makes a statement which really humbles us instantly as we continue to read his letter to this church. (v5-v8). This is a profound and very important portion of biblical truth.......which is the glue to everything when it comes to the matter of humility. (v5-v11)
Think about this as it pertains to what we have already read and gone over so far in this letter. Jesus Christ the God man, truly God and truly man, came to this earth to display the love of the Godhead to their creation as a humble servant! “Form “refers to “the outward manifestation (exhibit, display) of an inner reality.” The idea is that before the Incarnation, from eternity past, Jesus pre-existed in the Divine Form of God. Jesus Christ is, always has been, equal with God the Father in every way.
How did He do this? By coming in the likeness of man to die for our wickedness as a man of no reputation! God in all His Glory came to this earth to display to humanity, His sovereign love for His creation. Jesus came in the likeness of man, truly God and truly man who humbled Himself in the form of a servant. (v7)
Paul describes this humility by what he says here “Emptied Himself”
This has caused controversy over the years by liberal theologians who abused the meaning of this text by developing the idea Christ emptied Himself, he ceased to be God or stripped himself of His attributes. What Jesus did was “empty, making Himself nothing” of every suggestion of advantage and privilege, refusing to assert and divine right on His own behalf. The Godman who created and owned everything forsook everything.
What did Jesus empty, himself, of?
Jesus Emptied Himself of His divine rights. “When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify You,” John 17:1
Jesus Emptied Himself of His independent divine authority. "I can do nothing on My own. As I hear, I judge, and My judgment is just, because I seek not My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 5:30
Jesus Emptied Himself of the voluntary exercise of some of His divine attributes. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” Matt 24:35-36
Jesus Emptied Himself of His eternal riches. “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matt 20:28
Emptied Himself temporarily of His intimate and face to face relationship with His Heavenly Father. “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Matt 27:46
We as Christians cannot empty ourselves like our Lord did, but Believers are obligated (bound, indebted) to Him! We are obligated to follow the Lord’s example of true humility. Emptying ourselves of anything that would steal our joy found in Him alone and rob Him of His exaltation. This means anything that would hinder our obedience and service to Him.
Think about what Paul is saying! Jesus Christ! God in human flesh, humbled Himself even to Death. (v8) Christ our Lord suffered the worst punishment that anyone could ever endure! NO! CREATED PERSON, could withstand what our Lord went through and not sin in there heart. Why? “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Heb 4:15. But we read on in the following verses we see the ultimate end to Jesus’ great act of humility and exaltation. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,” (v9)
What is that name? “Lord “ which means “the title of majesty, authority, honor, and sovereignty.” The Hebrew word for Lord is “Adonia”.......this Hebrew name “Adonia” does not just mean Lord or God; it speaks of a deeper and more personal response. What it‘s literally means is “my Lord” or “my God”
Mary used this word when she had her encounter with Jesus in the garden on Easter morning.
“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"—and that he had said these things to her.” John 20:14-18
Thomas said in the upper room “my Lord and my God” John 20:28
Even the demons understood His authority as Lord. “Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!" Luke 4:34
This special name “Lord” carries some serious weight and consequences for all of us, saved and unsaved. (v10-v11)
Everyone will bow down and call Him Lord. Whether Living or in Heaven or in Hell.
Every person shall acknowledge Him as God, and confess His right to Universal Authority.
Every single person on this earth will see Him as Thomas saw Him, as Mary, and even as the demons saw Him.
Everyone will bow down before Him who seats on the Throne in His exaltation. Not as a Servant, but as a King, the only King worthy of all adoration and praise. This is exciting and terrifying all at the same time when we stand before Him in His glory. Why? As Paul washer said “I have good news and bad news. The good news is God is here! The bad news is God is here!” It all depends on what side of the fence you are standing on. For the believer, this is a glorious day of rejoicing before our God and King. But for the lost, this is terrifying experience that will last for an eternity as He cast you into the Lake of Fire.
Do you find this portion of Scripture sobering this morning? If not.....then I fear for you!! Because the ultimate question we need to ask yourself is...... Will it be in love and adoration as you fall gratefully before the One who loved you and died for you? Or will it be by compulsion as you are forced to your knees by the angel moments before you are removed from His presence forever to spend eternity in Hell? If you are a Christian, save by His grace. God commands you to humble ourselves like our Lord did on our behalf for His exaltation! We must display this same kind of humility to the whole world before they stand before Him in His “Full glory”.