We live in a ‘I-me-myself’ world. To seek the interests of others and to serve their needs is definitely a counter trend. Seeking the needs of others and serving their needs does not come easy for it requires us to practice humility. Humility, then, needs to be part of our lifestyle.
In Philippians 2, we learn precious lessons on Humility. Paul exhorts the Church at Philippi to stay united. This unity is possible only through an attitude of humility. So, Paul calls the Church at Philippi to practice humility in thought and deed.
Firstly, they should do nothing through selfish ambition or conceit (3a). Rather, they should esteem others better than themselves (3b). Secondly, they should not look to serve themselves (v4a) but rather look out to serve the needs of others.
Humility is to be practiced by everyone in Church. When humility becomes a lifestyle, then the Church becomes a community of practice.
Paul, then, draws from the example of Jesus who is the epitome of Humility. In vs 5 – 11, he quotes a hymn, probably one of the earliest hymns of the early Church, that speaks of Jesus as the epitome of humility.
Jesus humbled himself – he did not consider himself equal to God (v6), made himself of no reputation (v7a) and took the form of a bondservant (v7b).
Further, Paul illustrates this attitude through the exemplary lives of Timothy and Epaphroditus. Timothy was the best person to serve the Church because there is no one else to care for the Church as much as he does (v20).
While most people think of their interests, Timothy seeks things, ‘which are of Christ Jesus’ (v21). Likewise, Epaphroditus ministered to Paul’s needs and came close to death for the work of Christ (v27).
Both Timothy and Epaphroditus were willing to put others before themselves, and the needs of others before their own needs. Paul also talks about his own personal attitudes of being in the service of others. He says, “I am glad to be poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and the service of your faith” (v17).
Paul encourages us to have this attitude which was also in Christ Jesus (v5). When Jesus’ followers are shaped by Jesus’ attitude, then the Church can stay united in love and live in harmony. We can shine as lights among the people of this world (v15)
Ponder: Do I practice humility? Do I genuinely seek the needs of others and serve them?
Prayer: Lord, I need your grace to seek the needs of others and serve them. Help me be freed from myself and put the cause of the Kingdom before me. Help me follow your example of being humble and give myself selflessly to the cause of Christ. Amen!
Samuel Thambusamy is a PhD candidate with the Oxford Center for Religion and Public Life.
Photo by Wylly Suhendra on Unsplash
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For Me to Live is Christ (Philippians 1)