Read Philippians 2:1-13
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death —
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (NIV)
This is one of the more wonderful passages in the Bible. Some believe that when Paul gets to verses 6-11, he is quoting a hymn that was sung at the time. Those words speak of the wonder of Christ’s work and the result of that work. And it all began with humility.
Paul begins this section, with a plea. We see it in the continual use of “If.” And the desire of Paul is for the people is unity in Christ’s love. Christ love is an “agape” love. The Greek word used most often in the Bible for love is the word, “agape,” which means a self giving love. It is a love that gives without expecting anything in return. It loves simply because that is the nature of the one who loves this way.
When the Christian communities have flourished the best, it is when they served one another the most. The danger in this kind of attitude is to begin to compare your giving of self to others. We can begin to think that people are taking advantage of us or using us for their own selfish gain. But when give to others out of love and with think of others before ourselves, then the result is that we want them to take advantage of us. That is the purpose.
In our live, if we are honest with ourselves, we will see there were times when we gave and there are times when we received. It may or may not balance. But that is not the purpose to give as much as we receive. We give out of blessings from God’s love and for me, I hope a live a blessed life where I am able to give more than I have to receive. But there have been times when others blessed me and Marilyn. When we first moved to a new town after getting out of the Army, we had a fire in our apartment that made it unlivable that night. A neighbor who barely knew us, opened her home to us and even left us alone in the home as work to her away. She thought of us ahead of herself and we are grateful to that attitude she had. For Paul, this is the way we should live – always looking to help others.
Paul closes this section on the humility of Christ as our example with the admonition to both obey and to work out one’s salvation with fear and trembling. We see that in much of Scripture, obedience is a key to our faith in Christ. Christ said to the disciples at the last Supper, “Those who love me will obey me.” (John 14:23) Working out our salvation with fear and trembling is the balance between this love and obedience. There is the realization of our sin and our need to be obedient. But there is also a desire to love God as he has loved us. And to work out, indicates that this is a process and not a onetime event. The Greek verb signifies an ongoing process. And this is what we call Sanctification. It is the ongoing process of becoming Holy and perfect. There is also a recognition that our sin goes against God’s love for us.
How has your attitude been the same as Christ? Do you see yourself getting closer to God as you age? Does your salvation have an aspect to it that is ongoing (I mean by this, are you seeing ways you can walk closer to God as you live and thus, have a deeper assurance as the years go by)?
Blessings and Peace