In Part 1 of this series, I shared that Philippians 2:1-11 shows that Jesus Christ is the greatest missionary of all and that as His followers today, we must look to His example in regards to developing a missionary mindset. In Part 2, we learned that, like Jesus, we must count the cost when it comes to being on mission for Him. In today’s post, Paul will begin to show how Jesus’ humility was one of the main reasons why He was the greatest missionary of all.
In verse 7, Paul declares that Jesus “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Other translations say that he “emptied himself.” Without getting too technical, the idea is not that Jesus stopped being God, but that He set aside His position of power as God in heaven for a season. He was still God, but he chose to veil some of his divine attributes as God for a season. So when you think about it, this is absolutely amazing! The God of this universe made himself nothing! The King who created the universe and everything in it, the King who sustains us at every moment, the King who gives us the very air that we breathe, the King who has all authority in heaven and on earth, the King who would have been perfectly just if He had remained in heaven, this same King was born of a virgin, wrapped in swaddling cloths, and was laid in a manger because there was no room for the King in the inn. Talk about a humble beginning! Paul says elsewhere “Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). Truly, Jesus counted others more highly than himself.
And if we truly want to follow the example of Christ, we must also count others more important than ourselves. We must also look to the interests of others, and not ourselves only. We must also count ourselves as nothing. And that’s very difficult for us to do because, unlike Jesus, we are sinful. Yet, through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, we can possess this attitude of humility.
Therefore, if we are going to follow the example of Christ and truly live on mission for Him, we must make much of others and little of ourselves. We must take the gospel to the poorest of the poor because we were much poorer and yet Jesus came to us. (In fact, Jesus says in Matthew 5:3 that, in essence, we were spiritually bankrupt.) We must take the gospel to those who oppose us and would kill us because the Bible says that we were enemies of God, yet Jesus still came to us. We must take the gospel to those who have never heard the name of Jesus because we would never have heard of Jesus ourselves without someone telling us about Him (Romans 10:13-17). In each of these circumstances, we must put the needs of others above our needs. As David Platt suggests, you may just need to use one of your weeks of vacation to go on a mission trip rather than to the beach. Why? Because Christ put others before Himself, and we must as well if we are to carry out the mission that He has entrusted to us.
As you reflect on these truths, think of practical ways that you can apply these to your life. If you truly began to put others before yourself, how would your life change? How would your approach to missions change? How would your giving to missions efforts such as the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Cooperative Program change? Start to follow Christ’s example of humility today and you will be well on your way to becoming even more fruitful in your walk with Christ. To Him be the glory!