Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. —Philippians 2:5-7
We live in a world consumed with personal glory. As much as we may disdain this sort of arrogance in other people, the truth is: pride is something that all of us struggle with. We long to be the center and are willing to use others to build ourselves up. We want to be in control, and become anxious when we realize that we are not. We complain because some part of us thinks that if we were God, things would be better. We secretly celebrate others’ failures because it makes us feel better about ourselves. We envy others’ successes because we feel like we deserve it more. Since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the garden, people have been trying to be like God.
But, the Bible tells us that there is one person who was different. One person who didn’t act out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility spent his life looking out for the interests of others. There was one person who didn’t seek his own glory, but lived his life for the glory of his Father. Paul tells us about this person in Philippians 2 and what he says about him ought to blow our minds. Here, Paul tells us that the humblest man to ever walk the face of the earth was God. Please let that sink in for a second. The humblest man who ever walked the face of the earth was God.
Paul tells us that though Jesus was God, he didn’t cling to his equality with God. Instead, he humbled himself and took on the form of a servant. Oh, how different Jesus is from us! Even though we are created human beings, we are constantly grasping after equality with God—which we don’t deserve and will never achieve. But Jesus had it. Jesus had what everyone in this world has been fighting for since the beginning. Yet, he willingly let it go in order to take on flesh and come down to earth.
When he came, he told his disciples that he didn’t come to be served but to serve. You and I have a hard time serving those who are in positions of authority over us. Can you imagine how hard it must have been for Jesus to serve sinners like you and me? But he did. While his disciples argued over which one of them was the greatest, the Son of God got up from the table, laid aside his outer garments, and tied a towel around his waist. Then Jesus did something that no other superior in all of ancient literature ever did, he washed the manure off of his disciples’ feet.
And that was just the beginning. Soon even the towel would be ripped off of him and the Son of God would hang naked on a cross. There, the humblest man who ever lived died the death of the arrogant. There, the one who refused to grasp the glory that was rightfully his died like a thief in our place. He died for all the times we have tried to steal God’s glory for ourselves. There, the Son of God gave his life as a ransom for many. There, God opposed Jesus for our pride so that one day we might be exalted on account of his perfect humility.
There at the cross, you and I find the antidote for our pride. John Stott writes, “Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, “I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.” Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size” (The Message of Galatians, The Bible Speaks Today, p. 179).
At the cross, it becomes painfully obvious that you and I don’t deserve to be the center, but the cross doesn’t leave the center empty. Instead, the cross shows us who ought to be there. You see, the only way we will ever stop grasping after the center, is if we find someone that we believe is more worthy of it than we are.
The Bible tells us that Jesus is that one. He is more worthy of the center than you. Not just because he is God, but also because he has loved you and gave his life on the cross for you.
So take your eyes off of yourself and look to Jesus. Let His beauty and His worth and His love overwhelm you; let His power and majesty and glory entrance you; let His promises protect you; let His resurrection from the dead give you a living hope. He is the center, and life is so much better when we realize that. So, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5).
What evidences of humility in Christ do you see?
How does the cross serve as an anecdote for our pride?
What are some attributes of the mind of Christ? How does your thought life compare?
What makes Jesus more worthy of the center than we are?