Philippians 2:5-8—Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!
This is one of the most important passages in the letters from Paul. It is called “the emptying passage” because it tells of Christ emptying Himself to become a man. The meaning of “made himself nothing” is debated, but all can agree that Christ left something behind to become a man. In trying to plumb the depths of the doctrine presented, we miss the key point of the passage, the purpose for which Paul wrote. Paul was pleading for unity among those in the church at Philippi. They had taken sides over two quite prominent women who were arguing. Paul began this chapter with the instruction to be of one purpose and “in humility consider others better than yourselves.” The passage today is an instruction to have the attitude Christ Jesus had. He was more spiritually mature than everyone He met, but He didn’t walk around in pride, arguing. He humbled Himself to become a man. Seeing He was in a body, He knew that He must become what humans were created to be, servants of the Highest. So, He listened to His Father and obeyed Him in everything. He did not exert His own opinion or will, but only that of His Father. The ultimate example of this submission was seen in the Garden when He surrendered to the Father’s will even death by Roman crucifixion. Paul is commanding us to follow Jesus’ example. Live as servants of the Highest, humbly doing what He instructs. That will have us in the same mind and purpose, considering others better than ourselves. When the church has the attitude of Christ, we will bear fruit unto God. Unity will be obvious. God will be glorified.