As the apostolic founder of the church at Philippi, nothing could have made Paul happier than to hear that the church was active and unified in the work he had started. He wrote that it would “complete his joy” if they would take care of business outside the church and take care of each other inside the church (v.1-2). To do so would require that each member of the church assume the mindset of Jesus Christ — the mindset of humility. As they served one another in love and served the lost unselfishly, their humility would pave the way for unity and allow them to work together to pierce the darkness of lostness with the light of the gospel (v.14-15).
Paul promised to send two of his most gifted and trusted protégés, Timothy and Epaphroditus, to encourage the church on his behalf. Both of these men were examples of the kind of humility the church needed. Unlike many church leaders, Timothy had a record of “genuine concern” for the welfare of churches (v.20-22). Epaphroditus was a man who had risked his life for the sake of the gospel (v.30). The church had much to learn from these brothers, but they really needed just one example of humility: the Lord Jesus.
Paul presented the character of Jesus in verses 5-11, one of the most theologically significant sections of the New Testament. This passage is uncommonly beautiful. It was written in poetic form and sung as a hymn in the early church. Paul pictures Jesus willingly laying aside the privileges of deity and emptying Himself of His rights as God. He did so in order to take on human form and serve mankind. In the ultimate act of unselfish service, Jesus carried our sins to the cross, willingly taking the punishment we deserved — death. But here is the amazing thing about humble surrender to God: humiliation gives way to exaltation. Other biblical writers join Paul in this teaching. The Apostle Peter wrote, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:6). James echoed the same: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:10).
For Christ, the ultimate humiliation resulted in the ultimate exaltation — above everyone and everything in the universe! Someday everyone will acknowledge His supremacy, bowing to confess “Jesus Christ is Lord.”
As you worship with the church today, be humble as you serve God’s people, be joyful as you celebrate the exalted Lord Jesus, and be grateful for His humiliation when He went to the cross. Glory to God!