Sunday, March 09, 2014

Christian Humility

Christian humility

Philippians 2: 5-11
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

Humility is unique to Biblical faith. It is only Christianity that regard humility as a virtue; others either do not accord it a position of honour or utterly fail to recognize it. Christian humility can be defined as the bent-knee instance of awed and grateful awareness that existence is a gift of grace, and mercy beyond our understanding. Humility can be seen in Abraham as he describes himself as “dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27); in Paul as he writes to the Church in Corinth in First Corinthians 4:6-7: “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.  For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (NKJV) - all we are is a gift from God. Humility is the sinner’s acknowledgment of his sins and unfitness for God’s mercy as we see in Isaiah “Woe is me -... unclean lips (Isaiah 6:5) We see this again in Paul in First Corinthians 15:9; Ephesians 3:18; First Timothy 1:15. 

Our passage of reference, Philippians 2:5-11, is Christ’s example to the Christian of what humility should consist, cost and promise.

In verse 5 – Exhortation to humility: the mind of Christ

  • What is the mind of Christ? It is the mind of perfect love, manifesting itself in perfect humility. 
  • Why do we need it? It is the only cure for our want of unity. Disunity comes from self-exaltation. Controversies are hushed when we lose ourselves in Christ; realize His presence and the example of the incarnate Christ. 
  • How can we have it? By uniting ourselves to Him; We must receive Him if we would imitate Him; for then He lives His life in us.
  • What will it be to us? In the heat of controversies we shall learn to see that servant’s form in our midst, set there as He once set a little child in the midst of His disciples disputing among themselves which should be the greatest. He is Himself that little child; by His self-humiliation, He forever rebukes our self-exaltation.


In verses 6-8: The Humiliation of Christ:  The height from which He came is the measure of the depth to which He descended. “He was forever, in the form of God” (John 13:3-4)\

  • His humiliation was NOT a loss of glory or essential worth. He is forever in the form of God; this He could not renounce. He laid aside for a time His eternal equality with God. He did not consider it a possession of great importance. This is contrary to ordinary human ideas, which is “catch at” anything which confers external honour.
  • His humiliation was a reality: He took the “form of a servant” i.e. He actually became as such as He was actually in the “form of God”. He also assumed the “likeness of a man” coming in appearance as in reality, one of ourselves.
  • He accepted the true position of man, which is that of obedience: This was man’s only assignment in the Garden of Eden – obey God. Since then obedience has been man’s truest and essential glory. The true man cannot live any other life than that of obedience and service. Christ’s obedience is to death, even to a death of shame, if such is required of Him. Our glory is to accept whatever way be the will of God for us.


Verse 9: Exaltation through Humiliation:

  • Our Lord’s teaching:  Christ in various forms taught that humiliation is the only part to exaltation. “Except we be born again”; “Blessed are the poor in spirit”; “He that humbles himself ...”
  • Our Lord’s Example:  He is Himself the great example of that which He teaches. He humbled Himself as none other can humble himself, and He is exalted as none other is exalted.

Our exaltation Can Only Be Achieved as His was: We must humble ourselves. We must humble ourselves in the way of obedience. We shall not find grace in any self chosen methods of self-humiliation not imposed upon us by God.

  • It is a Matter of Spiritual Experience: That self exaltation always leaves us humiliated whereas the cheerful acceptance of the Cross which God lays upon us, making us to share in the humiliation of Christ, gives us some share also in His exaltation.
  • It is also a Matter of Historical Proof: That the builders of the Tower of Babel proposed to “make themselves a name” and were confounded. (Genesis 11:4-8) What of Abraham who followed God? (Genesis 12:2) He was made great.



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