In Philippians 2:1-11 Paul throws down a challenge for the Philippians... but it is not in a vacuum, watch how the challenge is sandwiched with Jesus...
Jesus Our Motivation, 2:1
“If you have any encouragement from being in Christ …” Stop right there. Answer the question, do you? Have you been encouraged by your relationship with Christ? Has this union with Him impacted your outlook on life? What else has He done for you? Do you have any “comfort from his love?” Has there ever been a time where the love of Christ brought your soul comfort? Have you ever had “fellowship in the Spirit?” Have you had a moment where it occurs to you that you can fellowship with God, and with fellow believers, because He’s given you His Holy Spirit? If you answered no to all of these, it is because you either need to get saved, or you are still very young in your faith and have not learned how to recognize these blessings of being in Christ. If you answered yes to any of these… you’ve just been set up. With these privileges comes responsibility… “be like minded, having the same love, being one in Spirit and purpose.”
The Challenge, 2:2-5
If you’ve been loved, then love. If you’ve been encouraged, then encourage. If you’ve been united with Christ, be united with each other… “being one in Spirit and in purpose.” Paul wants to see them united, not just to present a united front against opposition to the Gospel (1:27), but also to enjoy the benefits of unity – namely, looking out for one another, serving one another, loving one another. That is why they should “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit!” That’s challenging, but they have the motivation of being united with Christ, comforted by His love, fellowshipping with His Spirit. So they can “in humility, consider others better than themselves.” Practically, this will look like people looking “not only to their own interests but also to the interest of others.” And all of this behavior is motivated by Jesus – who provides “encouragement … comfort from His love … fellowship in the Spirit.” What Jesus provides gives security and joy to the one who believes in Him; this security makes one able to look outside himself … to the interest of others. That’s how Jesus motivates. But the Philippians may need more than just motivation for selfless living… they may need a model.
Jesus Our Model, 2:5-11
Who better to model selfless living than Jesus, and Paul wants them to have the same mindset Jesus had. You see even though Jesus was God, He didn’t play that card to His advantage, He didn’t demand God-like status or treatment while He was on earth. So also, the one who is living selflessly must not demand status or treatment that they may think they deserve. Jesus emptied Himself, made Himself nothing. The one who will live selflessly will do the same - emptying self-promotion, and self-centered agendas. Jesus took on the form of a servant, not because He was forced into servitude, but because He followed His Father’s will into servitude. The one who lives selflessly will serve others, willingly, following Jesus’ model. But how far should someone go in serving others? How far does the selfless living rabbit hole go? Pretty deep – Jesus humbled himself to the point of death, death on a cross… public humiliation. Not because He made poor choices and paid the consequence, but because His love for His Father, and for others was bigger than His love for self. We also see that God exalted Jesus. Jesus humbled Himself, but God exalted Him. Don't seek self promotion, trust God for how He will direct your life, as you humbly serve others, just like Jesus did. Getting ahead in life, being promoted, climbing the ladder - patiently put these in God's hands, recognizing your patience may carry you all the way to the end of your life. Expand your timeline beyond this life, and let your faith fuel your patience and humility in this life.