Chuck Allen, Pastor
Today, we celebrate Salt and Light Day in our community. A couple hundred of us will step out of the church and the comforts of home to selflessly serve others. We refer to Sugar Hill Church as a place that believes the Bible is a big deal, that Jesus is the biggest deal, and that serving people in need is how we live that belief out in the real world!
I think most of us would agree that the Bible is a VERY, VERY BIG DEAL!
I think most of us would agree that JESUS is the BIGGEST DEAL!
Then why do so few of us serve like we believe, act like we talk, or love without hate?
There are 2 levels on which we can understand this passage in Philippians. 1st, It gives us remarkable insight into the nature and work of Jesus.
It tells us of His equality with God and of His coexistent humanity. How He is 100 percent God and 100 percent man, all at the same time. It tells us of His obedience to the will of the Father and how He died on the cross.
But secondly, and just as important, is the contextual message which is extremely practical. Paul is writing to the church to instruct them on how they are to live. It properly sets Jesus, who was and is God, as the supreme example.
It is He who we are to follow; it is His actions we are to emulate.
Here’s the practical message, “Have this mindset, this attitude, among yourselves which was in Christ.” If we are to act appropriately and in obedience with the directions given in verses 1-4 we must possess the same mind or attitude as Christ.
Philippians 2:1-4 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
Verses 5-11 show us how that is to be done by describing a servant from the example of Jesus Himself. Here is the big AH-HA in this teaching – You cannot allow Christ to live through you and not be a servant. Only through servanthood can you be obedient to God’s call on your life.
Verses 6-11, gives great insight: The clear and unmistakable application is this. The text tells us to do what Jesus did, to think what He thought, to have the same attitude toward servanthood that he had.
Verse 5: You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Don’t blow past that statement and think it’s not about you. This is an intensive invasion into your soul with a bar set really high – We are to have the same attitude as Jesus – when we do, we will then do as He does, think as He thinks, and serve as He serves.
Verse 5, coming on the heels of verses 1-4, tells us that we are to be servants, just at Jesus was a servant. How was He a servant? Look at verses 6-11.
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,
8 He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
It’s not only what His attitude was, but how it was lived in the life of Jesus. Here’s another AH-HAH – Our attitude remains abstract, and intangible, until it is physically expressed, it is an unknown until it is placed in action.
Attitude should always determine actions, because actions always demonstrate true attitudes. What you are is what you will do.
You say, “I can’t have the same ministry Jesus had, He was God, and I am not.” True, but you can have the same attitude towards people, the same attitude toward serving, and that attitude will drive your actions.
Here are 5 things we can say about servants, five things we must understand and employ in our lives if we want to become servants like Jesus.
1. Being a servant means giving up my rights for others
Look in verse 6 – The original language here says that Jesus was of the very same nature as God, that He was in fact God. This truth is the foundation of the church. Peter testified, when Jesus asked him, who do you say that I am, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Although He was shown to us as a human, He continued to display the attributes and attitudes of God. There is a mystery, the hypostatic union.
A theological phrase referring to the dual nature of Jesus. God the Son took on a human nature, and He remains forever true God and true man – two in one Person forever. The two natures remain distinct without any intermingling, but they compose one Person, Jesus the God-Man.
Jesus lived as 100 percent human and 100 percent God. Because of His divine nature, He was able to overcome everything we struggle with. Paul is saying that because we have Jesus living in us we are enabled us to live out the Divine nature. Jesus living in us enables us to overcome the desires, the temptations to live like the rest of the world, to overcome the desire to live for self rather than living for others.
Paul wants to make it clear that Jesus was and is God. Not just a prophet, not just a teacher, not just a healer, He was and is God incarnate. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Notice the next thing Paul says: “He did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.”
Jesus didn’t hold on to His rights as God. He wasn’t looking out for Himself, but for others. He surrendered His rights, for you and me. He gave up His privileges in order to come as a man and suffer a death we deserved.
Jesus considered His Deity an opportunity for service and obedience. Instead of using all He had been given to His own advantage, He used it for others, for those who had nothing, He used it for us.
All of the authority and power available to Him became a channel of giving rather than a conduit for getting. His focus was not on being served but upon serving others, not upon exalting Himself, but of emptying Himself in obedience.
The contrast is clear, between the value system of the world and the value system of Jesus. In our world He who has the most money, has the most power has the most prestige and is worth the most wins. In the economy of Jesus it is just the opposite. He who is the highest is he who does not live for himself, but for others. He who would be the greatest among you is he who is your servant.
If we are ever going to be servants, if we’re to have the same attitude as Jesus, we are going to have to give up our rights, give up our privileges, in deference to others. This is what Jesus did and if we follow Him, this is what we must do.
2. Being a servant means becoming less so others can become more (vs 7)
Jesus Emptied himself – Literally poured Himself out, made Himself nothing, He emptied Himself of significance. How did He do it? By taking on the form of a slave, the very nature of a servant. Jesus became a servant. He willingly left the splendor of heaven for the smell of a stable. He left the company of angels for the company of men.
What a distance Jesus traveled from Heaven to the cross, from robes to rags, from being served to serving, from the splendor of Heaven, to the cobblestones of the Via Dolorosa. Why did He do it? He did it because of His great love for us.
This is at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus. To lose our life to save it, to be emptied of self in order to be able to be filled with Him and His passion for others.
We aren’t interested in being emptied, but in being filled. We’re more interested in becoming something or someone than in becoming nothing and no one. It contrary to our nature to become less so others can become more.
3. Serving means being obedient whatever the cost (vs 8)
Jesus humbled Himself – It’s impossible for us to understand the intensity of what God is saying here. He who made all men, knew the hearts of all men, had all authority over men, humbled Himself and allowed Himself to be executed by men.
The early church didn’t view the cross the same way we do. They didn’t wear them around their necks or as earrings. It was not just a form of execution; it was the lowest form of execution, reserved for those who had no standing or rights.
In the world Paul shared with the Philippians, crucifixion was the cruelest form of execution in the Roman Empire. In this, we begin to understand the depths of humility to which Jesus sunk, in order to obey the Father and love you!
It’s on the cross that the true nature of God is revealed. God is love. He came to give Himself for us, to die for us, to die at our hands, because that’s what it took to redeem us, to buy us back .
There is nothing He will ever ask of us that will cost us as much as going to the cross cost Him. We can never humble ourselves as much as He humbled Himself. We must, however, be willing to do whatever He asks, whenever He asks, wherever He asks.
For many of us, we have already predetermined the things God wants us to do. In reality, we have simply decided we are not going to listen to Him when He asks us to go outside that box. We use selective obedience, and that’s not real obedience. Servanthood means being obedient, whatever the cost.
4. Servanthood will be rewarded (vs 9-11)
Because Jesus was obedient, because He humbled Himself, because He was willing to pay the price, He will be exalted. The Father has given Him the name at which every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Lord.
Don’t miss this Principle: God rewards our humble, obedient service.
Proverbs 22:4: “The result of humility is the fear of the LORD along with wealth, honor, and life.”
Matthew 23:11: “The greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
5. Being a servant is about being and about doing
There is no genuine life in Jesus that is not at the same time, by the power of the Holy Spirit, being transformed into the likeness of Christ. If Jesus humbled Himself to become a servant to others, then how can we as His followers, who are not God, in any way exalt ourselves? If He died for others, how can we fail to live for others?
This mindset of serving others instead of being served, of giving rather than getting is lived out in the interpersonal exchanges we encounter every day.
How we treat others. It is, most often, not seen in how we treat those who are socially above us, but how we treat those who are socially beneath us.
Are you here to serve or are you here to be served? Is your attitude like the world’s or is it like Jesus’? Are you going through the motions of service or are you becoming a servant? The example has been set; the call is clear. All that remains today is your response, your decision, your commitment. Will you be like Jesus today or not?
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