Kingdom Humility: Philippians 1:27-2:11

Kingdom Humility: Philippians 1:27-2:11

Paul has one concern for his Philippian brethren. He would have them live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Obviously, we cannot live in such a way that our lives would be ‘deserving of’, or ‘worth’ the death of Christ.  Paul cannot be meaning “worthy” in that sense.  All of our righteous deeds are as filthy rags before him, and as the most we could ever do would only be our duty (Isa 64:6; Luk 17:10).  Rather, Paul means that he would have them (and us) live in a manner ‘appropriate to’ a redeemed people.  Our lives should ‘fit with’ the gospel.

Paul does not leave us to wonder what lives that are suitable to redemption look like.  He immediately points to unity as the great characteristic of gospel-fit. We are to be striving together with ‘one mind’.  Of course, he is not saying that there should be no differences of opinion within the church.  We are not to be single-minded in that sense.  Rather, our single-mindedness is a matter of focus.  We are all, side-by-side, to strive together with one great intent: that each of us would grow into conformity with Jesus Christ.  As each member grows, so does the body.

And what does it look like … to look like Jesus?  That is, what does Jesus look like? Our Lord did not cling to divine dignity and prerogatives, but laid them aside when he took on human flesh and submitted himself to the will of Another. His humility knew no bounds. He even submitted to death, an ignominious death at that! Paul goes on to point out that the Father always exalts those who humble themselves.  This is why Jesus could say that whoever would be rich should give to the poor, whoever would be great should be a servant, and whoever would live should lay down his life.  That is the kingdom pattern: humility then glory.

So Paul urges that every member of the church live a life worthy of the gospel.  And what that means is each member of the church regarding others as more significant than themselves, each individual looking out for the interest of others, everyone seeking his neighbor’s good. That is Christ-likeness. That is the transformation each one of us is to seek for himself and his neighbor. With that sort of ‘agreement’, with that sort of single-minded focus, with Christ as the object of our worship and our imitation, divisions cannot survive in the church.  They will be overwhelmed by selflessness and grace.


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