The Call to be a Servant
Read Philippians 2:1-11
"With humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves."
Philippians 2:6-11 is regarded as one of the most concise and profound theological statements in all of Scripture. In these six verses, the veil of Christ's incarnation is pulled back, and we discover insight into one of the greatest mysteries of all of history and even Scripture itself, that God himself became flesh. While other Scriptures affirm that Christ was fully God, here we discover how he became man. When Christ become man, the master became the servant. In one of the great paradoxes of Scripture that the who is infinitely more significant than the whole universe combined, the God is created the universe with a mere spoken word, the one who through whom and for whom all things were created, condescended to be a servant to his creation. The wording is graphic and shocking. Christ gave up all his divine rights and set aside the use of his divine power to become a bond-servant. A bond-servant was a slave who was legally owned by another and whose entire livelihood and purpose were determined by their master and to do what was best for the master. Instead of being self-serving, their whole life was oriented around serving their master. In his incarnation, Christ did not think of himself; rather, his focus was entirely on the unselfish concern for others. He gave up his divine rights to bring salvation to us.
However, as we are captured by the wonder and mystery of this remarkable passage, we often overlook Paul's point. The passage's focus is not what Christ has done for us but what we are to do for others. Verse 5 serves as the focal point of the passage, "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus." Instead of pursuing our own interests and needs, we are to set those aside so that we might serve others willingly. Verse 3 and 4 present a standard that goes against our very nature. We are inherently self-centered and self-driven. In our natural, sinful state, we look out for ourselves and our interests. We demand our rights. We are told, "Lookout for yourself, for no one else will." At best, we view the welfare of others to be equal to our own interests. But Christ, in his example, raises the bar to an even higher level; he calls us to "regard one another as more important than yourself." As one writer said, "the humble person is not one who thinks meanly of himself; he simply does not think of himself at all!" This attitude is ultimately driven by our submission to Christ. Because we are yielded to Christ and he promises to supply all our needs, we are now free to become a servant to others. This does not mean we become a "religious doormat" but that we become focused on serving others for their spiritual growth. Just as Christ came to be our servant so that we might be saved, so now we set aside our rights to serve others to draw them to Christ. Our participation in the church is not to be served but to use our spiritual gifts to help others.
What causes us to stop and reflect upon the example of Christ is that he became a servant, not to his friends and followers, but his enemies. He set aside His divine rights and became our servant to bring salvation to those who were hostile to him. This gives us the key to healing broken relationships in our life. When we conflict with someone, set aside our rights and before focused on ministering to their needs. When we do that, it will not only change our attitude towards them; it will change their attitude towards us.