Humility, seen in the book of Philippians

How does Paul develop the theme of humility in his letter to the Philippians? First of all, Paul wrote this book from very humble circumstances; he was imprisoned. The Jews accused him of many things, including rejecting the law and defiling the temple, which led to his bondage. So, Paul has a good perspective from which to be writing about humility. Paul first speaks about humility at the beginning of Philippians 2. Philippians 2:3-8 says:

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Christ provides the perfect example of humility, which Paul calls us to follow. He had everything, more than any man could obtain: he was one with God. Yet still, Jesus became a man, born in the lowliest of ways, from a lowly member of society, and the lowliest workers in the culture would proclaim his birth. Eventually, on the cross, he would even experience separation from God the Father. If Christ came in such a way, and since society reviled him in the way they did, how much more should we accept and even welcome persecution when it comes? God will reveal the glory of his kingdom in due time, but meanwhile we are his humble servants; not of this world, and therefore looked down upon by the world. Philippians 2:14-16 says:
Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labour in vain.”
By being humble servants, by being obedient, we will as a result ‘shine as lights in the world’. The world hates that light, because they are slaves to the Evil One, and he hates that light more than anyone. We will suffer for it. We will face persecution. But as long as we have faith in God, and hang on to him, our reward will come. It is better to be humble in this momentary darkness and reap the rewards in the eternal future than to indulge in the pleasures of the worlds and face everlasting condemnation. Philippians 3:14:

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul gives us an important example to follow. He never gave up, even when things looked grimmest. We can’t take the idea of humility too far, and let the world jostle us around; we still must stand firm, remaining humble in the belief that any good in us comes not from our own being, but from the grace of God. We can’t take the spirit of humility to ends it was not meant to be taken. Our humility should cause us to stand out from the world, not to become a common part of it.

I think Philippians 4:8-9 gives a good summary of how to remain humble, yet stand apart from the world:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
(All quotations are from the English Standard Version)  

1 comment:

  1. Caleb, I enjoyed your post. Humility is so important. I think that pride is (either consciously or subconsciously) at the root of (most, if not every!) sin.


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About Caleb Joyce

So, who am I? I do many different things. I enjoy writing, graphics design, sports, and people. Most importantly, though, I am a follower of Christ, and I aim to further advance the knowledge of his glory in everything I do. At any rate, you can get in touch with me on either Facebook or Twitter, using the links above. I look forward to speaking with you.