Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 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: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!
In humility, we are called to put the needs of others before our own. About 15% of the “one another” commands stress an attitude of humility and deference among believers. Humility is a mark of authentic Christian community because it characterizes Jesus’ earthly ministry. Because of our faith in Christ, we are to think less of ourselves and think more of others. In humility, we continually look for ways to serve our community and reflect the humility that Jesus showed each of us.
It is important to note that Paul is writing this letter from prison. He is rejoicing in the Lord and would rejoice even more if he knew the Gospel was working in the lives of the believers in Philippi. Paul encourages the Philippian believers to be of one mind. To be of one mind is to let the mind of Christ be in you. If we have the mind of Christ, we will be of one accord on the major doctrines of the faith. This does allow room for differences of expressions, gifts, methods of service, and minor doctrines.
In verse three he writes, “but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” If the church could embrace this teaching, it would solve many of the problems in the church today. Obeying this teaching would eliminate the power struggle that goes on in so many churches today. In his commentary on Philippians, Ralph Martin writes, “The antidote to these evil tendencies lies in the cultivation of a characteristic Pauline virtue, humility. It is as Bonnard expresses it, a humility before God which leads to a humility in our relations with other people. Unless our humility begins in our recognition of our creaturely dependence upon God and our true condition in His sight, it will only show itself to the world as humbug and false self-depreciation. To have this attitude to God and to one’s fellows is also to be aware of one’s own failings.”
Humility is the awareness of one’s own weaknesses and failings before a holy God. This mindset is absolutely essential for people to experience authentic Christian community. Jesus reflected humility in the way He served mankind. The humility of Jesus fuels in us a love that knows no end. If we claim to be His followers, then it would make sense that we would reflect His humility in our interactions with each other.
Questions to Ponder
What do we learn from Jesus’ example of humility? How do you view yourself in your relationship with God? How are you at putting others first? How are you humbly serving those in the church? In your family? In the community?
Spend some time in prayer meditating on what God revealed to you today.