Reading For Wednesday Philippians 2:1-18
Paul begins this section with a series of questions that assume agreement. He does not query the church at Philippi in this way to cause them to doubt these things, but rather to remind them that these things are so, and they do matter. Since all of this grace abounds, Paul tells them to complete his joy through the same mind and love. He then alternates between the negative and positive ways that believers should relate to one another. Pride and ambition are enemies to Christian love. In verse four, I think we miss what Paul says to some degree. Paul does not say to ignore and abandon your interests, and he says to be mindful of the interest of others. It seems that our tendency is to exclude others interests altogether. The love and unity of the local church is a convincing apologetic for the gospel.
These words should render us speechless as a sense of awe and wonder envelops our hearts. Jesus did not insist upon what was rightfully his. Instead, he willingly laid aside his glory and took our humanity. Jesus never ceased to be God, but he took on our humanity becoming fully God and fully man at the same time. Jesus humiliated himself willingly to serve his creation and redeem them. God humbled himself to the point of death, even enduring the curse of the cross. Jesus was not the only person to die on a cross, but his death was different as he became the sin-bearer for his people. He bore the wrath of God for our sake so that we might be reconciled to God. Charles Wesley penned it this way:
’Tis mystery all! The immortal dies!
Who can explore his strange design?
In vain the first-born seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine
’Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
Jesus accomplished redemption on the cross, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven where he reigns in exaltation. The Father has restored his glory, and he has the name under which all of creation will bow. King Jesus reigns!
Paul exercises his apostolic authority and calls the people to obedience and tells them to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. Make no mistake; salvation is God’s work. We cannot save ourselves. We are saved by grace through faith, but it is not of ourselves (Eph. 2:8–9). Paul was calling the Philippians to work out what God had worked in them. One that has been saved shows the evidence by the fruit of righteousness. We are saved by faith alone, but it is not a faith that stays alone. Jesus on the inside makes a difference on the outside. The God, who does the work of salvation, is still at work, giving both the desire and the power to work out salvation. By living in the way prescribed, the children of God are like lights that shine in the world. This is reminiscent of the words of Jesus when he said that we should let our light shine before men so that they could see our good deeds and glorify the Father in heaven. Paul explains that success does not require his comfort, nor the comfort and freedom from pain or hardship. Paul knows that living for Christ is cause for rejoicing no matter the circumstances.
Things To Consider:
- Why is it difficult to have the same mind?
- Is ambition always a bad thing? Why or why not?
- Why is it difficult to think of others as more significant?
- How can we look to the interests of others?
- Why did Jesus humiliate himself?
- Where do you see Jesus move from humiliation to exaltation besides the resurrection?
- How can you work out your salvation?
- Why is it important to remember that God is at work in you?
- What do our works have to do with our salvation?