Humble Service (Part 1)

Philippians 2:1-11 ESV
[1] So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, [2] complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. [3] Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. [4] Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. [5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, [7] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. [8] And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [9] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, [10] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

INTRODUCTION

Partnership in the gospel means cooperating with one another to advance the gospel. In order for this to happen there must be Christian unity.

The chapter opens with an appeal: If ever you’ve experienced the wonderful blessings of the gospel (e.g., encouragement, comfort, sympathy, etc.), you should be united. No more selfish ambition and pride; instead, there should be humble and unselfish service towards others. You should do this because you owe a debt of gratitude to those who humbly and unselfishly served you. You would never have experienced all those wonderful blessings of the Christian life if it were not for them. You yourself received the benefits of the gospel; it is only right that you should share them with others. But that’s not going to be happen if we’re divided as a result of pride and selfishness and envy.

Then Paul turns to the great example, the embodiment, of humble service: Jesus Christ. What does humble service look like? Look to Jesus for the answer.

  1. HE FORGOT ABOUT HIMSELF/WHAT HE RENOUNCED.
  2. HE HUMBLED HIMSELF/WHAT HE BECAME.
  3. HE SACRIFICED HIMSELF/WHAT HE EMBRACED:

So on to the first point.

  1. HE FORGOT HIMSELF/WHAT HE RENOUNCED: HIS DIVINE PRIVILEGES.

The Bible says Jesus was in the form of God. This means Jesus Christ is God, equal with the Father. This is quite mysterious. The Bible does not teach polytheism. The Bible is monotheistic: there is only one true God. But this one true God exists in three persons: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. The three persons of the Trinity are separate and distinct from one another. Each one is fully God, but at the end of the day there is only one God! We do not believe as the Oneness do, who say that there is only one person who plays three different roles.

Although this is difficult to grasp, there is no escaping the fact that the Bible teaches the doctrine of the Trinity even if the Bible does not use the term itself. For example, at least with respect to the Lord Jesus –

Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV
[1] Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, [2] but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. [3] He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

The Father also calls the Son God!

Hebrews 1:8 ESV
[8] But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.

Colossians 1:15-17 ESV
[15] He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. [16] For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him. [17] And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Note: the firstborn here does not mean he’s the first creature. It means he’s in charge of creation, just as the firstborn is in charge of the household in his father’s name. It is a term of privilege and power.

Psalm 89:27 ESV
[27] And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.

In other words, the Lord Jesus could have decided to remain in the comforts of his heavenly home and never experience the sufferings and trials common to humanity, as well as the horrible death on the cross. But he thought not of himself, he thought of you and me. And because of his great love for us, he laid aside his divine privileges, entered our world, and became one of us.

John 1:1-3,14 ESV
[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] He was in the beginning with God. [3] All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. [14] And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

So the Lord Jesus is the great exemplar in this matter; it is no wonder that his followers through the ages have adopted the same attitude. They were merely following in the footsteps of their Master.

I am reminded here of D.M. Lloyd Jones, arguably the greatest preacher of the 20th center. He was on his way to becoming a great doctor in England. He surprised everyone by deciding to give it all up in order to become a pastor in a relatively unknown town in South Wales. He said,

“I gave up nothing [a promising medical career]; I received everything. I count it the highest honor that God can confer on any man to call him to be a herald of the gospel.”

This reminds me of what Paul said,

Philippians 3:7-8 ESV
[7] But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. [8] Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ …

And even in the Old Testament the Spirit of Jesus was already at work. So we read of Moses’ —

Hebrews 11:24-26 ESV
[24] By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, [25] choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. [26] He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.

CONCLUSION

There can be no humble service without the willingness to give up your privileges. If you think only of your own comfort, your own convenience, your own advantage, and your own benefit, you will never serve humbly. To serve humbly we must put the interests of others ahead of ourselves. Our motto should be, God first, others second, and I am third. Just like Jesus when he said,

Mark 10:45 ESV
[45] For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

TAKE HOME

The gospel is about Jesus Christ laying aside his privileges in order to humbly serve us even to the extent of dying for us. Partnership in the gospel means, “Go and do likewise!”

(TO BE CONTINUED)

(Message preached to the congregation of Ikthus East Bacolod during the Midweek Service on 26 February 2020.)

Author: attycortes

Filipino lawyer, preacher, composer.

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