“Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”
This is one of the most powerful verses in the bible, in my opinion. Paul speaks a lot in the second chapter of Philippians about the character of Jesus, mainly about his nature as a humble servant. He calls us to be like-minded with Jesus in his selfless service. These verses fall right in the middle of that instruction.
Paul basically tells us, “be like Jesus.” And then he tells us, “This is what he was like.” While there are many ways to describe Jesus, and probably thousands of words that would be fitting in one way or another to attribute to his character, I believe that Paul chose the most powerful and the most important aspect to emphasize to us.
He says that Jesus, who although he was God in the flesh, all-knowing, all-powerful, and eternal, didn’t think highly of himself because of it. He didn’t live as if he were worthy to be served or worshiped, even though he is the only man to ever walk the earth to be worthy of it. Instead, Paul says, he made himself nothing. The creator of heaven and earth and you and me and everything in this universe lowered himself to nothing – he humbled himself completely and considered everyone else to be more important than himself.
Simply the fact that he took the form of a man and became human, the creator becoming one of the created, is hugely humbling in and of itself. But he went even further and refused to be served but instead served all. He served until his last breath, as he hung on a cross, rejected, beaten, and alone. He had reached the lowest of the low, humbled himself to the greatest extent. He who knew no sin and was beholden to no death took our sin and submitted himself to the death we deserve.
Paul’s challenge to make ourselves like-minded to that is no easy feat. But it becomes easier when you think about everything that Jesus gave up to do it on your behalf. It becomes easier when you remember that because Jesus loved you that much, you get to live forever with him. It becomes easier when you know that by serving as he served and loving as he loved you may just be the reason someone else comes to know him, believes in him, and is saved.
It is not easy to live the way Jesus did. It’s so hard to put myself last all the time. I know that Jesus did that and he did it perfectly, and I pray that you’d help me to live by his example. Thank you for his servant nature, thank you for his willingness to humble himself for me. Thank you for the cross and the salvation that was achieved by it.
In Jesus’ Name,