When you’re in the middle of a heated discussion with someone, it is difficult to stop and think about who God is and all the blessings that He has given us. But if we will train our minds to remember God’s great love, Christ’s encouragement, and the help available to us by the Spirit, it is possible, by God’s grace, to humbly move toward the other person in love, seeking unity.
It is significant how Paul introduces Christ’s cross and crown, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). Christ is not just our example as we strive for humility but also our enabler. Because He accomplished our redemption, we are new creatures in Christ and our minds are being renewed to become more and more like Him (Rom. 8:29).
The Apostle John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). But Christ, the perfect Son of God, did not grasp for power. Instead, He “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7). In order to help “the offspring of Abraham” He “had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:16–17).
Jesus “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). Death on a cross was the most hideous form of death. Romans didn’t even mention it in their conversations, it was so despicable to them. And Jews believed that a criminal died on a cross under the curse of God (Deut. 21:22–23). But there was no other way the redemption of God’s people could have been accomplished (see Col. 1:21–22).
If we are to be humble in each other’s presence, strive side by side for the gospel, and love one another, then we must look to Christ and remember that we are united to Him in His death and in His life.
In between Christ’s cross (death) and crown (exaltation) two important events occurred: the resurrection and the ascension. Although Paul doesn’t mention them in Philippians 2:5–11, they are assumed, since the exaltation could not have happened apart from them. Such events were marvelous to behold, and some had the privilege of seeing and touching His nail-pierced hands, eating with Him, hearing His voice one last time, and watching Him ascend into the clouds of heaven (John 20:26–29; 21:9–14; Acts 1:6–11). But only God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and the angels in heaven were there when the King of the nations assumed His rightful throne and the Father bestowed on Him “the name that is above every name . . . Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:9, 11).
Are you tired of living in disunity? Do you walk away from most conversations angry, disappointed, irritated, or proud? Are you looking out mostly for your own interests instead of the interests of others? Let us humble ourselves before the Lord and strive for unity with those whom God has placed in our lives. We have “encouragement in Christ,” “comfort from [God’s] love,” “participation in the Spirit,” and the “affection and sympathy” of the triune God (Phil. 2:1). Dear believer, Christ is more than just our example. He will enable us to dwell with others in humility and unity as we look to Him.