Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (4)Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (5)Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (6)who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, (7)but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (8)And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (9)Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, (10)so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11)and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:3-11
Remember the story of Israel’s son, Joseph? Joseph was dad’s favorite and so Israel gave him a “coat of many colors.” Or, more accurately, a coat that was unusually ornate or long, uniquely crafted to signal to everyone that Joseph was dad’s favorite – the most honored.
So Joseph’s jealous brothers took the robe from him – robbed his honor – threw him in a pit and sold him into servitude.
Jesus did not have his honor taken from him. Jesus removed it willingly to clothe us.
Jesus was not thrown down, but stepped down into humanity to join us.
Jesus was not forced into servitude. Jesus gladly suffered the scorn of the crowds, the doubts of His own family and friends, and our cross on his back to rescue us.
And Paul wrote that we are to be like Christ. To take up the towel I must lay down my rights. To wash your feet, I must be cleansed of self-seeking, self-exultation, self-protection and selfish ambition.
The scandal of Paul’s words can’t be overstated. To an honor-shame culture in the ancient Near East, Paul dared to proclaim that Christ – the founder and savior of his faith! – gladly exchanged honor for shame.
Who would do such a thing?
Because Jesus was God, he emptied himself.
Jesus emptied himself – not a divestment of deity, but an expression of deity.
As N.T. Wright wrote, “The pre-existent son regarded equality with God not as excusing him from the task of (redemptive) suffering and death, but actually as uniquely qualifying him for that vocation.”
• What am I holding onto that is holding me back from living more like Jesus?
My God, I confess there is a fighter in me. There is a desire in me to push to the front of the line. There is a feeling in me that I deserve what I have and even more. There is a gift in me for getting what I want.
Kill off these self-seeking thoughts, feelings, and desires. Empty me.
Increase in me the thoughts, feelings, and desires of Christ. Fill me.
Live the life of Christ through me.
Give me feet to wash today. Fill every space I enter with the fullness of the emptied Christ.