Text: Philippians 2:1-30
I’m going to speak this morning of perhaps the most neglected and forgotten of all Christian virtues, the virtue of humility and I do believe that that quality is something that has made your pastor successful not just in the eyes of you his church but in the eyes of the one who matters most of all, the eyes of Jesus Christ. In preaching on this subject it is not because I feel I have mastered this or any other Christian virtue. In fact too many times I am like the pastor who stepped into his pulpit beamed at the congregation and announced, "My sermon today is on humility, and in my opinion, it's one of the finest pieces ever written." -- Cartoonist Johns in Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 1. No, I speak on humility today because I believe that this virtue truly is one of the most important but neglected reasons for a church being what Christ wants and one of the most important reason a church and a pastor can serve together for decades and be such a blessing to each other.
I. Philippi, Humble Church Philippians 1:1-4
1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
A. Vs. 1-2 Humility is Possible by Christ’s Love and Grace
1. Notice the Four “ifs”
a) If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies (deep seated affection and love)
b) These are first class conditions in Greek, which means we would understand or translate them as since or because there is. Paul is stating a cause and effect argument for the people of the Philippian church. Because there is consolation in Christ, because there is comfort in love, because there is fellowship in the Spirit because there is deep seated affection and love then they should be united as a church and as the people of God.
c) Their unity was based upon what Christ has done for them. Those actions of Christ being a part of all of their shared experience unites them.
2. 1st precept of Christian humility: True humility is not looking down on yourself but looking up to God. This is the understanding what allows humility to begin.
3. Vs. 3-4 Next Paul says that because of this truth then, nothing should be done because of selfish ambition or conceit. But instead let each esteem others better. Look to the interest and well being of others before ourselves.
4. 2nd Precept of Christian Humility: We must value our brothers and sisters in the church because we are all products of God’s grace.
5. Verse 3 and 4 gives us the 3rd Precept of Christian Humility. Humility is seen in esteeming others better than ourselves”
B. Transitions Paul now names 4 heroes to illustrate the power of humility. Jesus, Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus
II. Jesus, Humble King Philippians 2:4-11
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
A. Paul points to Jesus as the great example and honor for humility
1. Let this mind be in you.
2. Vs. 6 Jesus was equal with God
3. Vs. 7 But he made himself of no reputation, (The Greek word used here is kenosis and it means emptied.) Jesus emptied Himself of His glory, His power, His honor even His omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence, laid them aside for a time while on earth or until needed during his earthly ministry.
4. Vs. 7 Not only did He empty Himself but he also became a servant of God the Father.
5. Vs. 8 He became a man then even humbled himself even further to the point of death upon the cross.
6. Vs. 9-10 Now because of his kenosis and because he humbled himself even to the point of death, God has raised Him up in glory and power and honor. So that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus Christ as Lord!
B. 4th Precept of Humility
1. God’s greatest honor goes to those who take on the mind of Christ and humble themselves in service and sacrifice.
2. Our motivation for all that we do must always be the example of Jesus Christ in his great humility dying for us. One of the criteria for our reward one day will be based on our service to others.
3. 1 Corinthians 15: 9-10 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
4. Quotes: Humility is the exhibition of the spirit of Jesus Christ and is the touchstone of saintliness. - Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
C. Illustration: The gift of Christ to us should make us humble
1. The land of Persia was once ruled by a wise and beloved Shah who cared greatly for his people and desired only what was best for them. One day he disguised himself as a poor man and went to visit the public baths. The water for the baths was heated by a furnace in the cellar, so the Shah made his way to the dark place to sit with the man who tended the fire. The two men shared the coarse food, and the Shah befriended him in his loneliness. Day after day the ruler went to visit the man. The worker became attached to this stranger because he "came where he was". One day the Shah revealed his true identity, and he expected the man to ask him for a gift. Instead, he looked long into his leader's face and with love and wonder in his voice said, "You left your palace and your glory to sit with me in this dark place, to eat my coarse food, and to care about what happens to me. On others you may bestow rich gifts, but to me you have given yourself!"
III. Paul, Humble Leader Philippians 2:12-18
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. 17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.
A. Paul exhorts the Church in service and then uses himself as an example
1. How a humble church serves
a) Work out your own salvation, put into practice in daily living, what God had worked in them by His Spirit. - The Bible Knowledge Commentary.
b) Do all without murmurings and disputings. All that you do, do it without complaining or arguing.
c) Hold forth the word of life, hold out to the world the word of God.
2. Paul says in this he will rejoice and be willing to be poured out like a drink offering
a) The drink offering accompanied the other offerings. It was a voluntary offering and it was entirely used, none was held back
b) Vs. 17-18 This sacrifice was on the service and sacrifice of their faith.
c) Paul was the extra offering, offered when they served God through faith. His own service was enhanced, extended when they “worked out” their own salvation and served in the humble example of Christ.
B. 5th Precept of Humility, service, sacrifice and offering always accompany humility.
1. Sacrifice is a word a power-hungry church just doesn't understand. A church that cares about power-the power of a large membership, power in the world, political power, television power or persuasive opinion power-doesn't know the principle of sacrifice. [Far too many Christians] have neglected and even repudiated the example of Jesus Christ, who eschewed coercion in favor of quiet persuasion and whose method of acting was his willingness to die for those who would not die ... [When Christianity seeks to] arrogate power to enforce its righteous principles upon the whole world, it is in no way dying. This is in no way sacrifice. -- Walter Wangerin, Jr., quoted by Bruce Buursma in the Chicago Tribune (Aug. 8, 1986). Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 17.
1. The famous black scientist Booker T. Washington arrived in a city to make a speech. His train was late and he was in a hurry. He dashed out of the station to the cabstand, but the cabby growled, "I don't drive niggers." Washington said, "All right, that’s fine. I'll drive you. Get in the back."
IV. Timothy, Humble Helper Philippians 2:19-24
19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. 22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. 23 Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. 24 But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.
A. Timothy served the church with the heart of Paul and Christ.
1. Timothy had the same mind as Paul, just he had the same mind of Christ. Paul states without hesitation that Timothy would sincerely care for the church’s condition better than anyone else he could send.
2. Timothy cared so much for the church under his care that he may have not cared for himself as much as he should have.
3. 1 Timothy 5:22-23 Timothy was at Ephesus. “keep thyself pure. Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.
a) Paul wrote him and said, “Keep pure but use a little wine for your health”
b) Timothy may have had ulcers or made himself sick due to his care and concern for the church.
c) Now that kind of illness probably is something that your pastor and any true servant of the Lord can relate to. Sometimes the cares of the church will not let you sleep at night, or will wake you from a sound sleep or make you physically ill.
d) As much as we talk about and believe in “casting all our cares upon him” there is a part of being a pastor that means suffering because you love your people.
B. 6th Precept, Humility is shown is caring for others no matter the cost.
V. Epaphroditus, Humble Soldier Philippians 2:25-30
25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. 26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. 27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. 29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: 30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
A. Epaphroditus was a messenger and worker sent from Philippi
1. He probably brought an offering to Paul to help with the work and then stayed to offer himself in the work.
2. Epaphroditus served to the point of exhaustion, to the point of serious illness.
a) Vs. 30 Not regarding his own life, literally means, “being reckless with his own life.”
b) It comes from the Greek word, Parobulos, which means venturesome or reckless.
3. Example: In Alexandria, Egypt there was a group of Christian men were known as the Parobani. Taking on the character of Epaphroditus. They were a type of spiritual “suicide squad.” One of their duties was to minister to the victims of plague and epidemics.
B. 7th precept Humility takes the risk
C. After we have read Colossians 2
1. We should have a much greater understanding and respect for what it means to be a “humble servant of the Lord.”
2. We should also understand what it is to be a humble church serving along a humble pastor both with the heart of Christ. We should all strive to be the Timothys and Epaphroses in today’s world of pride and power.
3. What then is humility. It certainly does not mean weakness or fear. It actually calls for boldness, risk, and sacrifice even to the point death if necessary.
4. Nor does it mean an attitude about myself as much as it means action on behalf of others inspired by what Christ has done for me.
5. Humility Summary: My worthless life purchased by his priceless death should drive me to limitless service.
1. I used to think that God's gifts were on shelves one above the other and that the taller we grew in Christian character the more easily we could reach them. I now find that God's gifts are on shelves one beneath the other and that it is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower. - F. B. Meyer (1847-1929)
B. Chosen Vessel
The Master was searching for a vessel to use;
On the shelf there were many - which one would He choose?
“Take me”, cried the gold one, “I’m shiny and bright,
I'm of great value and I do things just right.
My beauty and lustre will outshine the rest
And for someone like You, Master, gold would be the best!”
The Master passed on with no word at all;
He looked at a silver urn, narrow and tall;
“I’ll serve You, dear Master, I'll pour out Your wine
And I'll be at Your table whenever You dine,
My lines are so graceful, my carvings so true,
And my silver will always compliment You.”
Unheeding the Master passed on to the brass,
It was widemouthed and shallow, and polished like glass.
“Here! Here!” cried the vessel, “I know I will do,
Place me on Your table for all men to view.”
“Look at me”, called the goblet of crystal so clear,
“My transparency shows my contents so dear,
Though fragile am I, I will serve You with pride,
And I'm sure I'll be happy in Your house to abide.”
The Master came next to a vessel of wood,
Polished and carved, it solidly stood.
“You may use me, dear Master”, the wooden bowl said,
“But I'd rather You used me for fruit, not for bread!”
Then the Master looked down and saw a vessel of clay.
Empty and broken it helplessly lay.
No hope had the vessel that the Master might choose,
To cleanse and make whole, to fill and to use.
“Ah! This is the vessel I've been hoping to find,
I will mend and use it and make it all Mine.”
“I need not the vessel with pride of its self;
Nor the one who is narrow to sit on the shelf;
Nor the one who is big mouthed and shallow and loud;
Nor one who displays his contents so proud;
Not the one who thinks he can do all things just right;
But this plain earthy vessel filled with My power and might.”
Then gently He lifted the vessel of clay.
Mended and cleansed it and filled it that day.
Spoke to it kindly. “There’s work you must do,
Just pour out to others as I pour into you.”