Monday, March 07, 2011

NSA Exhortation: The Humility of God: Phil. 2:1-13

We have met our God most directly, most clearly in Jesus Christ. Who is God? Who is the Triune God? Who is our God? Our God is the One who was born of Mary, anointed with Spirit, crucified on a Roman cross, and resurrected on the third day. Our God is the God who does not consider it robbery to be God, but freely gives that status away (Phil. 2:6). Calvin and other Reformers sometimes referred to this as God “accommodating” Himself to us, lisping for our frail human souls, but John says that the Word which was from the beginning was the true and glorious revelation of God, that which was seen and heard and touched (1 Jn. 1:1-3). But this means that we serve a radically humble God. But what does it mean that God is humble?

Humility & Unity
Paul’s central exhortation is to let the same mind which was in Christ be in us (Phil. 2:5). What is that mind? It is the mind that gladly gives up what is rightfully yours. The text is wonderfully chiastic:

A. Form of God (2:6)
B. Likeness of man (2:7)
C. Humbled himself; obedient to death (2:8a)
D. Death on a cross (2:8b)
C’. God exalted Him; God gave Him a name (2:9)
B’. Every knee will bow (2:10)
A’. Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (2:11)

Humility is Confident and Brave
Notice two things: First, Jesus did not give up His deity. He did not consider it robbery to be equal with God. It was not lie for Jesus to claim to be God. It was not grand theft for Him to claim that title. But notice secondly, that it is because it is His that He can make Himself of no reputation. In other words, it is the certainty that Jesus has that He is God that allows Him to freely take on the likeness of man. It is God security in Himself as Lord that allows Him to take on the form of a servant. Or from the other way around, it is great insecurity that refuses to risk reputation. It is uncertainty that refuses to serve. The humility of God rightly reckons what is true, what it would not be robbery to consider as true, and in that security and certainty gladly takes risks for the sake of others. In other words, humility is confident and brave.

Humility is Obedient
Notice that central to humility is obedience (Phil 2:8). Humility is not wishy-washy. Humility is not apathetic. Jesus humbled Himself and obeyed. Humility reckons what is true, and then gladly accepts orders. Jesus was so certain of who He was and what was to come that He could obey even to the point of death and even to the point of a cursed death on a cross. Humility is confident, and humility is obedient. This means that humility doesn’t give in to easier routes; humility isn’t a push over. When Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem, that was humility not a stubborn streak.

Humility loves Glory
Hebrews say that Jesus endured the cross and despised the shame of it for the joy that was set before Him (Heb. 12:2). That joy was the glory of sitting at the right hand of the throne of God. That was the joy of being exalted and given the name above every name. But this isn’t merely a means to an end. The humility of God on display in the incarnation was not a onetime exception to the rule. The humility of God revealed in Jesus was a display of God’s eternal humility: God’s eternal confidence, God’s eternal obedience and sacrificial love, God’s eternal glory. In other words, even though the incarnation and death and resurrection were a onetime historical accomplishment, those events reveal the kind of God we serve, the God who humbles Himself for the sake of others. God “esteems others better than Himself” (Phil. 2:3). In other words, God’s glory is His humility. It’s the glory of God to be a God who gives up reputation, who serves, etc. In the book of Revelation, Jesus is a lamb that was slain on the throne.

And notice how Christ’s humility is related to the goal of unity and mission. It is that confident, obedient humility that is glorious and is glorified.

Humility in this community:
1. Differences of background, personality, gifts, etc. : Humility is confident, secure, obedient, sacrificial, and revels in the glory. Roommates, Exams, Grades, Finances, Beauty, Intelligence, etc.

2. Differences in the churches, teaching style, emphases: Humility is confident, secure, obedient, sacrificial, and revels in the glory.

Humility at home:
1. Some of you will be going home: Humility is confident, secure, obedient, sacrificial, and revels in the glory at home, with your parents, with old friends, at your home church, in the challenges.

Humility on Spring Break:
1. Humility is confident and secure. You know who you are in Christ, and what He has called you to.
2. Humility is obedient and sacrificial. It is the height of arrogance to disobey the King.
3. Humility sees the glory in the cross.

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