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Jesus’ Counterculture Revolution, Part 2
Now if you would please, take out your Bibles and turn in them to Philippians, chapter 2, in your New Testament. If you don’t have a Bible, you can grab one under a chair in front of you and turn in that Bible in the back portion to page 155, and you will find yourself at Philippians 2. Now today we come to one of the gems of the Bible. It could be called the number one sparkling theological and Christological crown jewel of the New Testament. From every estimate, this is one of the summit passages of the New Testament. It has often been called the kenosis because it deals with the emptying of Jesus Christ…the greatest stoop of all time.
Now many scholars believe that in Philippians 2, verses 6 to 11, was part of an early creed in the Church or perhaps an early hymn in the Church that was sung or recited as a creed. Very interesting passage of Scripture we have. Because it is so unique and actually so high and so deep, I thought it would be good for us to do something a little different today as I read through the passage. That would be for all of us to stand as I’m reading. So if you are able to stand, if you would, take your Bible in your hand and stand up. I am going to read verses 5 to 11, one of the highest, most summit-type passages in all of the Bible. Here is what it says in Philippians 2:5:
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Alright, you may take a seat again.
What a great and deep passage of Scripture we have! Last week we began a two-part series we’ve called Jesus’ Counterculture Revolution, which is part of our overall study of the book of Philippians. Last week, we looked at part 1. We laid out a little outline. First of all in chapter 2, we have the motivation for the counterculture revolution in verse 1. Then we had the call to the counterculture revolution in verses 2 to 4, a call to unity (which we saw last time) and a call to humility and unselfishness.
But the third part of Jesus’ counterculture revolution is the example, which we have before us today in verses 5 to 11. Last week was part 1 in the counterculture revolution. Today is part 2. I just want to say this to you as we begin to move into this passage. Would you please just hold on to your hat [be patient] because I want you to know this is a passage of the Word of God that will illicit awe in us as we begin to unpack it? It is a passage that brings out incredible amazement and gratitude on our part as we look at these verses.
All of that is a good thing, but as we move through it, I want you to remember this: the verses we’re going to look at are an example for you and for me. They are an example of attitudes that we are to live out in our lives, in just our everyday lives…at work, in the neighborhood, at school, in our family. So, while it is a very high-level, summit-type passage that leads to a lot of awe and amazement and gratitude, we just need to remember this is an example for us, an example for you and for me.
Now I just want to back up a couple of verses as we begin to tackle this section to remind you what it said in verse 3. It says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Then in verse 5 it says, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” I like the New Living Translations puts it. It says this: “Your attitude should be the same that Jesus Christ had.”
If you’re struggling at all to grasp this idea of doing nothing from selfishness and with humility of mind, regarding one another as more important than ourselves and not looking out for our own interests, but also for the interests of others, if you’re struggling to grasp how the rubber really meets the road [how it practically works] in this whole area of humility and unselfishness, then all we need to do is look at the example. It really gives us a lot of insight. We look at the example of Jesus in this regard.
So your attitude, my attitude, should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Let’s take a look at it. Look at verse 6. Speaking of Christ Jesus, it says, “Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” In other words, this is what He is saying is that my approach in life and your approach in life and my perspective in life and your perspective in life is to be like Jesus Christ’s. We need to look at what He went through and what He did.
Now when you look at what’s stated there in verse 6, we could spend weeks, men and women, weeks on verse 6 alone just unpacking and exploring all the depth that is there, but the thrust of verse 6 is basically this: Jesus was fully God. Sometimes we don’t have a good, strong grip on the ramifications of all of that.
I want you to keep your finger in Philippians 2, and turn with me deep into the Old Testament all the way back to the second book of the Old Testament, which is the book of Exodus. Exodus, chapter 3. What has happened in Exodus is basically God has called Moses to represent Him to the people of Israel. Moses is a timid guy, lacks a lot of confidence. An interesting interchange occurs in Exodus, chapter 3, beginning with verse 13. Moses says to God, “Listen, I’m going to go to the sons of Israel, and I’m going to say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ God, what if they were to say to me, ‘What’s His name?’ What am I supposed to say?”
Then God says this to Moses: “You want to know who I am?” He says, “I AM WHO I AM.” Then He goes on to say to him, “Thus you can say to the sons of Israel (and He shortens it down), ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” The key name in the Old Testament from which we get the word YHWH or the word Jehovah. This is all talking about the incredible glory of who is God. YHWH God in all of His glory and all of His honor. It’s utterly overwhelming the glory He possesses.
In fact, thinking about who “I AM” is, I want us to look at chapter 33 of the book of Exodus…Exodus 33:18…because something very interesting happens. What’s occurred between chapter 3 and chapter 33 is God has been giving to Moses, on Mt. Sinai, the Law and all of its detail. So Moses has been spending some time talking with YHWH, the God of utter and total glory. Something very interesting happens when Moses says to Him in verse 18. It’s like he says, “I’ve been in a lot of conversations with You, God.” He said, “Hey, would You do me a favor? I just pray You would show me Your glory. I want to really see who You are. I want to see Your glory, God.”
Then God says back to him in verse 20, “No can do. You cannot see My face. You cannot look full into My glory because if you do, any man who sees Me in all of My awesome glory is going to die. A man cannot take a full-on look at who I am.” “But here.” God says, “You know what? I’ll do this for you. I’ll do this for you.” It’s interesting what He goes on to say. He says, “Listen…there is a place by Me. There is a little rock there. Here is what I’m going to do. I’m going to come and walk by you. My glory is going to pass by you. But here is what I’m going to do (in verse 22). I’m going to hide you down in the cleft of the rock. I’m going to put you down in here between the rocks and then as I’m walking by with all of My glory, I’m going to cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then at the very end, just as My glory is about to disappear, I will take My hand away, and you shall see My back, but My face will not be seen.”
Really what God was saying is, “Hey! You cannot take even one wide glimpse of My glory. But if you do this and you hide there in the rock and I put My hand down there and shield you, then you can look up, and you can just see the tail end of My glory as it’s moving by.” That is how awesome YHWH God is. Jehovah God, awesome in His glory. We couldn’t even look at Him without dropping dead, it’s so awesome.
Now I want you to turn with me back toward the book of Philippians to the New Testament to John, chapter 8, because we’re talking about the incredible glory of YHWH God in the Old Testament. Yet Jesus makes clear He is YHWH. He is YHWH God. If you look at John, chapter 8, verse 57 (last couple of verses), Jesus has said to them He had seen Abraham. Remember the father of Israel way back in the Old Testament?
So, they said to Him, “Oh get out of here [stop being ridiculous]! You’re not even 50 years old, and You’ve seen Abraham? What do you mean You’ve seen Abraham?” Then Jesus says to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born (here it comes), I am.” A distinctive claim…He says, “I saw Abraham because I am YHWH God. The God of incredible glory out of the Old Testament.”
By the way, they understood that’s what He was claiming because it says in verse 59, “Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.” “You’re claiming to be YHWH God, the God whose awesome glory is so amazing; we’re just going to pile a pile of stones right on top of you.” But clearly, He was saying, “That’s who I am, that God of awesome glory out of the Old Testament.” The New Testament verifies this in Colossians, chapter 2, verse 9. It says that in Jesus Christ all the fullness of deity dwells. All that God is, is in the Person of Christ. In Hebrews 1:3, it says of Jesus that He is the exact representation of the nature of God.
So back in Philippians 2, it says He existed in the form of God. He was full deity in all of His glory. He Himself is YHWH God out of the Old Testament. Yet a very interesting statement is made in verse 6. It says, “Yet He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” He didn’t clutch it closely to Himself. He didn’t keep a vice grip on that incredible glory and all its prerogatives. He didn’t grasp onto it. I like the Phillips’ Translation. It says this: “He, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to His prerogatives as God’s equal.”
But (verse 7) what He did is He emptied Himself. That’s where we get this word kenosis. It comes from the verb that is translated here emptied. He emptied Himself. What does that mean? How are we to understand that? Well some would say, “Well, what He did is, you see, He gave up His deity. He surrendered His deity. He was God, and then He just surrendered that.” But that is impossible. See, deity can’t not become deity. God is either God or He is not God. When God is God, He is always going to be God. It’s impossible. It doesn’t mean that at all. Well what does it mean, He emptied Himself? Well, I believe it means several things. It means…
1. The veiling of His pre-incarnate deity. Not the surrendering of His pre-incarnate deity because God is always going to be God. But it means the veiling of His pre-incarnate deity. What is really interesting is when Jesus came to the planet and He was living here on the face of the earth, there were times, though, when there were some flashes given of His pre-incarnate deity. Not a full exposure because anyone who gets a full exposure…boom! Dead out! But there were flashes that were given.
I want to look at a couple of them. Look at Matthew, chapter 17. We’ll be back in Philippians 2 in just a moment. Matthew 17, first couple of verses. Remember this story? Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and He led them up on a high mountain from the other disciples. “And He (Jesus) was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.” This is just a little flash. It’s not the full exposure of His pre-incarnate deity, but it’s a little flash of it that happens.
We see another example of a flash of His pre-incarnate deity from the Gospel of John, chapter 18. So look at chapter 18 of the Gospel of John. What we have in chapter 18 is the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. I want you to see what’s happening. You have Judas (verse 3 of John 18) and the Roman cohort, all these tough Roman soldiers, the greatest soldiers in the world. They have come from the chief priests and the Pharisees there with lanterns and torches and weapons. “So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them…” They all show up, and He goes, “Who are you looking for? Who are you guys looking for here in the night?” Their response to Him was, “We are looking for Jesus the Nazarene.”
Then notice this: “And He said to them (now notice the words that came out of His mouth), ‘I am. I am YHWH God out of the Old Testament.'” You notice what ends up happening at that moment in the next verse down there. It says in verse 6, “They drew back and fell to the ground.” It was just a flash for a moment, just a flash of His pre-incarnate deity as He said, “I am YHWH God.” Boom! All these tough soldiers hit the ground.
You know, we see this same kind of a thing happening with the apostle John. You don’t need to turn there, but in Revelation, chapter 1, he gets this vision of who Jesus Christ is. He says this there, “When I saw Him,” and it was just a flash because if it was anything more than a flash he would have been completely dead. John was a human being living on the earth. He says, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. I got just enough of a flash that boom I was down.”
Then it’s interesting to me what happens. Then Jesus walks over to him and says to John, “Don’t be afraid.” Because you see when you just get a flash whether you’re a Roman soldier or you’re one of the apostles, you just get a flash of the incredible glory of YHWH God, boom! It scares the pants off of you [big scare]. So when it talks about Jesus emptying Himself, part of it means the veiling of His pre-incarnate deity. It had to happen.
But another thing I think is involved is…
2. The voluntary non-use of His divine attributes. Not a surrendering of His divine attributes. God is always going to be God, but a voluntary non-use of His divine attributes. If you read your way through the Gospels, you find Jesus had a commitment to two things that were very, very clear. Number one, He was going to submit to the will of the Father. It wasn’t Jesus’ will; it was the will of God the Father. The second thing is He was going to practice full reliance on the Holy Spirit. He was going to be a great example for us in that regard…fully reliant on the Holy Spirit.
So, part of the emptying was this idea of a voluntary non-use of His divine attributes. There are several illustrations of that. I’ll just refer you to one. You can jot down the reference…Matthew 24, verse 36. When Jesus is asked, “When is the Son of Man going to come back?” He says, “That hour no one knows, not the angels of heaven, nor even the Son Himself, but the Father alone.” Now how can that be possible? Well it can be possible through the voluntary non-use of divine attributes. His commitment was to submit fully to the will of the Father and to practice complete and total reliance on the Holy Spirit of God.
Now I just want you to have a feeling for… It’s just important to have a feeling for the awesome majesty and the glory of YHWH God. Then when we read, “But He emptied Himself…” we just begin to realize, Whoa! You know what? I don’t even think we can imagine. I don’t think as human beings we are capable of understanding what that really means in significance. The awesome God in all of His glory that if you got more than a flash, you’d be dead. What humility and unselfishness for the God who is all of that to veil it and to voluntarily non-use some of His divine attributes is an incredible step. That’s absolutely awesome! Men and women, that’s just the beginning of this. It’s just the beginning.
Notice what it goes on to say. “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men.” When it says, “taking the form of a bondservant,” it doesn’t mean exchanging, “Okay, I gave My deity; now I’m taking humanity.” It’s more a term of adding to. He is fully God. Now He is adding to His person full humanity. He added the form of a bondservant in the likeness of men. We have one Person…Jesus, with a divine nature and all the attributes of deity. That same one Person now has human nature and all the attributes of humanity save one, and that is inherent sin. But He is all of that.
Why was that necessary? Well, He had to be human in order to die for human beings. If you’re going to take the place of a human being and take a human being’s penalty, you have to be a human being, otherwise you can’t take their place. He had to be fully deity in order to die for a whole world of humans. So this God…this God whose awesome glory is so incredible…emptied Himself and took the form of a bondservant in the likeness of men.
Notice it says, “And being found (verse 8) as a man, He humbled Himself.” You know, I look at that, and I think, That’s got to be one of the greatest understatements I have ever heard. I mean, think about it for a moment. Again, think of who He is in all of His awesome glory as YHWH God, and He takes on human nature? Yeah! That’s humbling Himself. The God who is the God of all gods, the God who has always been God, subjects Himself to hunger and to thirst and to temptation and to distress and to harassment and to poverty and to pain. I mean, can we begin to even get some sense of what this meant? What an incredible step!
You want to talk about regarding others as more important than yourself, holy cow [Wow]! You want to talk about not looking out for your own personal interests but also for the interests of others, that’s what YHWH God did when He humbled Himself by becoming a man. He said, “You know what? I’m going to be a Jewish Baby destined for death.” This is just so unbelievable.
I mean, the Ruler of the universe said, “You know what? I’m going to become reliant on a very young teenage mom and her young husband.” The Creator of the universe said, “You know what? I’m just going to become a mere carpenter living in a dusty, down-and-out [run down] little town called Nazareth, which is a little hole in the wall [insignificant] over there where they used to say, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth? No! Nothing good ever comes out of there.'” So the Creator says, “That’s where I’m going to live.”
“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself.” YHWH God had to borrow a place to be born. YHWH God had to borrow a boat from which He could teach people. YHWH God had to borrow a donkey to ride into the capital city of Jerusalem. YHWH God had to borrow a room where He could eat His last meal. YHWH God even had to borrow a tomb in which to be buried. This is amazing stuff!
Reminds me of what it says in 2 Corinthians 8:9 when it talks about the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. It says, “Though He was rich (though He was YHWH God in all of His glory), yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” Wow! Wow! “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself.” You better believe it! Then it goes on to say, “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Now men and women, we live in a very antiseptic society. We live in a very sterile society. In that day, that statement would have elicited a lot of emotion out of people when they heard it. They would have gasped almost to hear that said. “YHWH God humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross?” I mean, the cross was the most scandalous of all deaths. Some people have called it the thousand-deaths death because you would die in essence multiple times throughout the process. It was basically tortured asphyxiation for days.
Have you ever, you know, lost your breath? Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? Have you ever struggled to breathe? Do you know the amount of distress that puts on us? That’s happened to me many times when I was younger. Fortunately, it hasn’t happened recently. I don’t want it to happen again…have the wind knocked out of you. You know, just that incredible panic when you can’t get a breath. Can you imagine that going on for days? Time after every single breath like that? That’s what the Cross was. Incredible stuff! It was the ultimate indignity, the ultimate suffering, the ultimate degradation.
Crucifixion was really the utter destruction of a person. You would get so beaten up, and you would go through so…multiple days of really being asphyxiated at every breath, struggling in pain to grab a breath and then come back and back and back and forth. Then not only that, but when you would die, they would often leave you hanging on that cross, and the wild animals would come along when people weren’t around, jumping up and leaping, trying to grab your flesh. The birds of the sky would come and being to consume your body. I’m telling you; it was gruesome stuff.
In fact, it was so gruesome, do you know this, that the word cross and the word crucify were not considered polite conversation in Roman homes. You wouldn’t use the words. In fact, they’re like a lot of us with really ugly terms. They’d just come up with euphemisms. They might talk about someone who had to hang on the unlucky tree. They didn’t say crucify; they didn’t say cross because the emotional connotation to that. I mean, it just got people in the gut.
We’re so far removed from that. I mean, we talk about a cross, and we have people in Hollywood who don’t even know God personally who wear little crosses around their neck. We have this polished, pretty sterling silver cross. Or you may go to certain church situations, and they’ll have this beautiful, carefully stained, polished wood cross. It’s just not that way. That’s not what they felt when they heard this statement that “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
You know, I struggle to come up with an analogy of what it would be like. It would be sort of like if you chose to wear a miniature guillotine around your neck…you know, a guillotine where they would just chop your neck off. A little blade dropping. Can you imagine you’re running around with a guillotine? People would go, “Why do you have a guillotine around your neck?” You’d go, “Yeah, this is just kind of special to me, you know?” People would look at you weird like “What’s with that?” By the way, a guillotine is so far removed from a cross in terms of its emotional connotation.
“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” By the way, I want you to remember this: Jesus did not relish this in His humanity. He didn’t go, “Boy, I’m sure looking forward to that.” In fact, we know from Matthew 26, verse 39, you remember when He is in the Garden, and He is sweating as it were great drops of blood. He says to God the Father, “If it was possible, can You let this pass from Me?” Yet He goes on to say, “Yet not My will, Father, but Your will.” This was not an easy thing for Jesus in His humanity to do, nor in His deity to do.
We learn from Hebrews 5:7-8, it says, “In the days of His flesh (when He lived here on the planet), He offered up both prayers and pleadings with loud crying and tears.” This was an incredible sacrifice for the awesome, glorious YHWH God of the universe to come and be a man into poverty and then to die the death on a cross. You know what that tells me? That tells me that serving others can be hard. We talk about others first rather than me first like that’s just a simple little thing to do. I don’t know about you, but I struggle immensely with that. Serving other people can be hard. There is a price to pay. There is a sacrifice to ourselves when we do it.
Regarding others as more important than ourselves…that’s a hard thing. There can be sacrifice to it. Not pursuing our own personal interests but also the interests of others…that can be hard. There can be a price we pay when we do that. But you see what He is really saying is, “We need to remember Jesus’ example.” See, when we feel like we’ve been mistreated or someone hasn’t appreciated, or we’re not getting our own way, or we’re saying, “That’s unfair,” or we’re complaining and whining, what we really need to do is look back at what Jesus did for you and for me. See what Jesus is really saying through all of His actions here is, “YHWH God…the glorious YHWH God…” He said, “It’s others first, not Me first. Others first, not Me.”
First Peter 2:24 says, “He bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” Do you know a lot of people like to have personal mission statements? Maybe you have one, and maybe you know of people who have one. But did you know Jesus had one? It comes from Mark, chapter 10, verse 45. This was His personal mission statement. He says, “I didn’t come to be served; I came to serve.” In thinking about that, I think, Is that my personal mission statement while I’m on the planet? I didn’t come here to be served but to serve. Could you say that’s your personal mission statement? Would anyone else say that about you? Not to be served but to serve.
What’s really interesting is when you come down to verse 9, we learn something, and that is God honors humility. God honors unselfishness. God honors sacrifice. Jesus was willing to wait to be exalted and to receive honor. Notice it says in verse 9, “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.” By the way, the little verb here highly exalted, this is the only time it happens in the Bible, the only time it occurs. It’s almost like Paul is reaching for a term to describe what happened and how God highly exalted Him.
In fact, His being exalted and receiving honor really has two phases to it. The first one from our standpoint is past. That’s what it’s talking about when it says God highly exalted (past tense) Him, and bestowed (past tense) on Him the name which is above every name. Because you remember He died and then He was resurrected and then He was ascended and then He was seated (all past tense) at the right hand of the Father. It was bestowed (past tense) on Him the name that is above every name.
But that’s just phase 1. There is a phase 2 to all of this that is yet future. That’s what it’s talking about in verses 10 and 11. “So that (this hasn’t happened yet) at the name of Jesus every knee will bow.” Every knee…all of the intelligent created world…everybody who ever was in it or will be in it…their knee will bow before Jesus. “So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven (all of the angelic beings up there and maybe all of the saints who are in heaven would be included) and everyone on the earth (as he is writing this, everyone who is alive will bow their knee before Jesus) and everyone under the earth (all of those in the demonic realm and everyone who had died without God.) Every single person…all the intelligent created world…every knee will bow.”
“Every knee will bow and (verse 11) every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Confessing, by the way, just simply means to agree. Everyone is going to agree. It doesn’t make any difference who they are, what kind of intelligent created being they are whether it’s in heaven, on the earth, under the earth. Every single one will bow the knee and will agree Jesus Christ is Lord.
Now some will do that in excited ecstasy to be able to say, “Jesus Christ is YHWH God!” Some will do it out of a deep sense of defeated shame and despair. But every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Every one. That means Herod. That means Pilate. That means Nehru. That means Hitler. That means Stalin. That means Osama bin Laden. That means me, and that means you. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus is YHWH God. You go, “Wow! This is an amazing passage. I mean what a mountaintop! What a true gem out of the Scriptures. This is one of the crown jewels of the New Testament.”
In fact, men and women, when you really begin to think about what this means and what this is saying, it’s almost overwhelming. I almost want to use a word out of the Old Testament Psalms which is the word selah. You know, those are songs. A selah was a pause, an interlude in the music. The idea seems to be there was this pause where you just let the music and the lyrics sink in for a moment. We look at all of this we’ve just looked at, and we almost just want to say, “Selah.” Wow! Let that sink in for a little while. It inspires us to want to bow the knee before Jesus Christ to confess with our tongue He is God and to worship this kind of a God who would do that for us.
By the way, all of those responses are valid, but here is what I want us to remember as we look at this. We need to ponder that we are called to follow this. We are called to imitate this. We are called to live this example out in our families, at our job, at school, in the neighborhood. It’s not just something we’re supposed to be in awe about and to worship, and that’s very valid. But the example is laid out so we might be like that. We’re to have the same kind of an attitude. Others first, not me first.
Now I want to talk very quickly about some life application I think we need to think about having looked at this section of Scripture. That involves number one…reset, and number two…reconsider. Reset and reconsider.
Here is what I mean by reset. One thing I think we need to do by life application is to…
1. Reset our personal life focus. We need to reset our personal life focus. You know, “me first”…that’s a slogan that comes right out of the pit of hell. You know the first sloganeer was none other than Satan himself. “Me first” is a slogan from the pit of hell. “Others first” is a slogan from the heights of heaven.
I don’t know where you are in your thinking right now, but you may be thinking, You know, I’m really not sure I can do this others-more-than-myself thing. I mean, come on. I mean, the reality is there is a lot of sacrifice involved in that. Sometimes you may be thinking putting others first rather than me first just is too much sacrifice. I’m giving up too much. If you’re having that honest thought, I just have this response to that. If you think it’s too much sacrifice, then my response would be, “Really? You really think it’s too much sacrifice to put others first?” Perhaps a re-read of this passage would be in order.
We need to reset our personal life focus. It’s others first, not me first. That should be true at home. It should be true in our marriage. It should be true at work. It should be true in the Church of Jesus Christ. I believe right now this morning God is calling some of us to move from being passive and coasting in our spiritual life where really we’re not serving other people. He wants us to move to a position where we are actively serving others. That’s the call He is giving some of us. So reset your personal life focus. Others first, not me first.
Then the second thing is to…
2. Reconsider the Person of Christ. Some of us have been around the fringe of the faith for a long time. We’ve heard about the Person of Christ, but we’ve never come to the point in our life when we bow our knee before Him from our heart and we confess He is the one we need to honor. We need to get out of running our life and let Jesus Christ come in and begin to run it. I just want you to know it’s only a question of when this is going to happen, men and women. Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that He is God.
I believe God is calling some of us out of this group today for the very first time to bow our knee before Jesus Christ and to say, “You are God, and I am not.” He is calling some of us to come for the very first time and say, “I want a relationship with this kind of a God who loved me so much He did all of that for me.” That decision happens in time, space, history with all of us. He is calling some of you to do that.
Let’s pray together: Father, we thank You for Your Word. Oh, my goodness! We thank You for the Person of Jesus Christ. Man, what a love for us that He had to do what He did! We don’t even understand it all. Father, I mean, how can we justify a “me first” way of living our lives when we have a Savior who was others first? Help us to develop that same kind of attitude on a regular basis in our lives.
Father, for those who haven’t yet trusted in Christ, we would pray they realize they don’t have to go anywhere, do anything, say anything. In their heart, by faith, right now, where they sit unnecessary, they can say it’s time for us to transact some spiritual business for me to let God who is God be God in my life, to thank Him for dying for them and loving them and letting Him have control of their life.
My mind goes back to a hymn that was written in 1925. It said these words,
May the mind of Christ, my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.
May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea. (Here comes this last line)
Him exalting, self abasing, (see that’s the humility where we put others ahead of ourselves)
This is victory.
Father, we thank You so much for loving us like You do. You are so worthy of being worshipped by every single one of us. We thank You for Your greatness and for Your love. We thank You in Jesus’ name, Amen.