Sometimes people who are driven by the need to succeed exploit others and abuse power as they fight their way to the top. God exalted Jesus because of Jesus’ selflessness, obedience, servant-hood, and humility; Jesus talked about the importance of finding the best surroundings in which to grow in faith and serve others.
Paul’s epistle to the Philippians reads more like a personal letter than a theological treatise. This week’s text (Philippians 2:1-13), but, ranks as one of the most significant passages in the New Testament regarding the coming of God’s Son to earth. It is filled with practical lessons for us. In last week’s lesson, Paul was fully devoted to spreading the gospel and to building up others in the faith. Paul had reached a stage of humility and self-sacrifice that was extraordinary. His experience was well beyond that of most believers. Paul was a very strong individual; yet, his humility was stronger.
`Humility and service are among the treasured traits of a Christian leader. One of the traits of the current culture is the drive of some people to succeed at all costs, even if it means destroying or bringing down others. What honor is there in success if our success is attained at the expense of others? In our lesson, we see where God exalted Jesus to the highest honor, because of His selfless love and obedience to God.
Paul knew from firsthand experience that nothing was more destructive to the fellowship of the church and ministry of preaching the Gospel than division and discord within the fellowship. Beginning at Philippians 1:27, he exhorted the church to conduct themselves in a manner that was worthy of the name of Jesus Christ. At the heart of our lesson is the question of how a congregation can maintain the spirit of unity and cooperation. Paul shared with them that they must be like-minded, have the same joy and be one in spirit and purpose. They must do nothing from the standpoint of self-interest, but always look toward the interests of others and the larger body of Christ.
True humility is that condition of mind or heart which causes a person to have a proper appreciation of his/her own worth and that of others. To the true follower of Jesus, humility includes the realization of the value and necessity of the robe of Christ’s righteousness. Such a realization requires in each of us a condition of mind which causes us to always keep our Lord in full view, and to keep “self” out of sight to the greatest extent possible. To have a mind of Christ, means that we must allow God to work within our minds and in our hearts. We must be teachable. Our Lord has invited us to “learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in hear (Matthew 11:29).”
How does a congregation capture the model of unity and cooperation that Paul urged upon the Philippians? In the churches today, the spirit of competition is alive and well. Congregations compete among themselves for the top prize – members. The members compete for the top prizes – high positions and power. The people who make ministries succeed and run efficiently are often the ones who go unnoticed and unheralded. Which are you – one who needs to be seen or one who seeks to allow his/her service to speak for him/her?
Edna M. Thompson
Siloam Youth Sunday School Teacher