Studies of Humility: Jesus

Studies of Humility: Jesus

When you write a persuasive essay, you should save your strongest argument for last.  However, when I started outlining this series on humility, I felt negligent starting with anyone but Christ.  

Paul’s description of Christ in Philippians 2 perfectly explains why He is the greatest example of humility.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philipians 2:5-8

Whoa!  Those four verses are chock-full of Christology.  Let’s unpack the text, shall we?

I want to skip the first nine words (don’t worry; we’ll come back!) and begin by looking at Christ.  The passage says that He was “in the form of God.”  The Greek word for form (morphē) occurs only one other time in Scripture–when the resurrected Christ appeared in a different form and walked with two travelers on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12).  In Mark, Christ’s different form made Him unrecognizable; He did not look like Himself.  However, in Philippians, Christ is in the same form as God; Christ looks like God because He is God.  He has the same nature and essence as God, and He reigned with God from eternity past.

Paul explains that Christ did not grasp, did not cling to, did not demand to maintain, his position in Heaven.  Instead, He took the form (morphē) of a servant and accepted the limitations of humanity.  Then, He went a step further and offered Himself to the most despicable death imaginable.

If you read the introduction last week, then you may think that I am contradicting myself.  Last week, I defined humility as “Freedom from a false view of self.” This week, however, I said that Jesus, the perfect example of humility, chose to live as a man when He had every right to live as God.  Did Jesus have a false view of Himself?

No!  Of course not!  Jesus was fully aware of His deity.  Yet, He was also aware of His own eternal plan to save humanity.  Jesus did not have a false view of Himself; He perfectly understood that to fulfill His plan, He had to become God in the flesh.  

Now, let’s (finally) get back to the beginning of that passage.  Paul writes, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”  He implores his readers to truly be “little Christs;” just as Christ humbly acknowledged His place in the eternal plan, we should accept our role in eternity. 

Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).  This is our duty–not to exalt ourselves, but to point others to God.  We can only perform this duty when we are “free from a false view of self” and focused on a correct view of God.

Therefore, our first task in pursuing humility is having the mind of Christ and accepting our role in the eternal plan. 

Let me know in the comments:

  • Where do you fit in God’s eternal plan?

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