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(Part 6)


September 25, 2011
Today’s reading: Philippians 2:1-11

Today’s passage from Philippians teach us about the work of the Trinity in helping us to imitate Jesus.

First there is the Father. God is love, and we find “solace in love” (Phil 2:1b). When we realize God’s great love for us, that He even sent His very own Son to suffer and die for us, then we have all the consolation that we need in order to face every trial in life. The God of love, who did not withhold His own Son, will give us everything else besides.

God is also the one who greatly exalts Jesus (Phil 2:9a). But this is after Jesus has emptied himself (Phil 2:7a) and humbled himself (Phil 2:8a). This is a spiritual principle: God raises those who are bowed down. Peter says, “So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” (1 Pet 5:6). We go through many sufferings in life, but it is a great consolation, nay, encouragement, when we realize God could just be priming us for great things in life.

Further, all good works are for “the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:11b). God calls and raises us, restores us, and uses us such that His glory will be known throughout the earth. “You are my servant .... through whom I show my glory.” (Is 49:3). God is the God of glory, but the amazing thing is that He gives us the privilege to serve Him such that that glory shines forth through our work. And of course, the glory rubs off on us as well, and we are “made glorious in the sight of the Lord.” (Is 49:5c).

Second there is the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Here we find our “encouragement in Christ” (Phil 2:1a). This is because of what he has done for us. He was God who became man, taking the form of a slave, and accepting death on the cross (Phil 2:6-8). He has won salvation for us. He is Savior and Lord!

Jesus shows us the way to selfless, unilateral, unconditional love. He is our example of total self-giving, not counting the cost, willing to endure any suffering. He does not stand on position or power or prestige or privilege. He has denied himself and embraced the cross, which gives him the moral authority to ask his disciples to do likewise. He is obedient to the Father’s will. He is faithful unto death. It is he whom we imitate. “Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 2:5).

“Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Phil 2:9). That name given to Jesus is “Lord.” Thus, at the name of Jesus, we worship and proclaim him as Lord (Phil 2:10-11).

Third there is the Holy Spirit. Paul refers to “participation in the Spirit” (Phil 2:1c). It is the Spirit who enables us to imitate Christ.

It is the Spirit who animates the life of the body so that there will be unity, allowing us to be “of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.” (Phil 2:2). We take on the mind of Christ, the love of the Father, the unity of the Spirit, the one vision and mission of the community.

It is the Spirit who teaches us right relationships in community and among brethren so that there will be peace. “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others.” (Phil 2:3-4). We do not think only of our own welfare and advancement. We are one body moving forward together along the path of Christ. We look down on no one, recognizing our equal dignity as children of God. We help one another, we desire that no one be lost, we look to being Christ to each other. We always extend “compassion and mercy” (Phil 2:1d).

It is the Spirit who enables us to participate in spreading the good news of salvation throughout the world. God intends “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil 2:10-11a). That is every knee and every tongue worshiping the Lord Jesus. That is everyone everywhere giving praise.

Jesus took “the form of a slave, coming in human likeness” (Phil 2:7). These we already are. We are human, and with Jesus paying the price for us with his blood, we have become his slaves. Now Jesus became like us so that we can become like him. But we need to do our part. We need to empty ourselves, we need to humble ourselves, we need to obey the Father even unto death, we need to take on the very mind and heart of God, we need to love one another as God has loved us. In other words, we need to imitate Jesus.

Then will our joy be complete (Phil 2:2a), but more importantly, then will we bring joy to God’s heart and glory to His name.

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