A Portrait of True Selflessness and Humility
Written by Melanie Davis Porter (First 5 Ministries)
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
I remember watching a humorous movie about a wealthy socialite detained for breaking the law. Sadly, she resisted arrest and told the police officer that her dad would frame his badge. It was an amusing, but dismal, display of self-importance.
Sometimes entitlement that comes from accomplishments, success or even our pedigree can make us forget whose hand originally blessed us.
Today we learn about the humblest man ever to walk the earth. He wasn’t just a man; He was God. Jesus Christ, the one who came and died on a cross for our sin, left behind all of heaven’s royal prerogatives and became the redemptive sacrifice for you and me.
For the majority of His earthly life, Jesus veiled His identity. He willingly “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). Bible scholars explain this “emptying,” from the Greek word kenosis, to mean that Jesus emptied Himself of His own divine attributes while living here on earth and lived in complete dependence and obedience to His Father’s will.
Nevertheless, just because He was in human form, Jesus didn’t empty Himself of His Deity or power. Oh no! Jesus never stopped being God, even as a child. (Colossians 2:9) He merely let go of His divine privileges for our sake.
This passage also says, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). I can’t imagine the kind of humility that walks away from the comforts of royalty and willingly lays down to die for the undeserving; can you? We humans find it hard to be humble when someone cuts in front of us in line. We must never forget that Jesus’ selfless sacrifice brought Him great physical and emotional suffering. From every blow to His body to every insult to His intellect, Jesus experienced human pain.
Jesus’ humility provides a compelling example of how to live. Paul shows us Jesus’ humility to encourage us to live more unselfishly. If Christ can die for us, then surely we can be more attentive to others than ourselves.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Paul is telling us to think like Jesus did when He came down and suffered for us. Jesus didn’t just give up heaven’s divine comforts; He temporarily gave up His glory, His position where He was worshipped.
One day, I look forward to asking Jesus how it felt to be human at the same time as being God the Son. That may be a silly thought, but I imagine we are missing insights because we may lack the contentment to practice humility in all areas of our lives. Our flesh longs to be in first place, recognized and adored. Jesus had all that and more, yet He gave it up for us. What a beautiful portrait of true selflessness and humility our Savior paints.