The Humility of a Servant

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.
—Philippians 2:5–6

Philippians 2:5–11 tells us about who Jesus Christ is. In one sense, I hesitate to dissect this passage because it is so beautiful. In fact, it was probably an early hymn in the church. Nevertheless, in this passage, Paul explains three important qualities of servanthood that we need to learn if we are going to develop a servant’s heart.

First of all, we need the quality of humility. We see this in verses 5–6: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” Humility simply means to have a proper evaluation of yourself.

People can go to one of two extremes when they try to evaluate themselves realistically. Some people think they are God’s greatest gift to the church. They say to themselves, “How in the world could the church ever get along without me?” In Romans 12:3, Paul has a word to people who think that way. He says, “Through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment.” Then Paul goes on into a discussion of spiritual gifts. He is saying, “You’re not that great. You can’t exist by yourself. You need other Christians. Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to think.”

But there are other people in the church who go to the opposite extreme. They think of themselves less than they should think. I had a seminary professor who used to talk about what he called “the glorification of the worm ceremony” that occurs in some churches after every worship service.

The preacher stands at the back of the auditorium, and members of the church file by and shake his hand and say, “Oh, Pastor, that is the greatest message I’ve ever heard in my life.” And the pastor says, “Oh no, I’m nothing but a lowly worm.”

God’s Word says we ought to think of ourselves realistically. The fact is, in and of ourselves, we are nothing. But if you are a Christian, God has given you a unique spiritual gift to use in the body of Christ. Don’t think more highly of yourself than you should think. Don’t think more lowly of yourself than you ought to think. Understand who you are in Christ.

Jesus Christ had a perfect understanding of who He was. In John 10:30, He said very clearly, “I and the Father are one.” In other words, “I’m equal to God.” Later, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus reminded Peter that His coming death on the cross was voluntary, not compulsory. In Matthew 26:53, He said to Peter, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” In other words, “Peter, if I wanted to, with a snap of a finger, I could call thousands of angels to rescue Me.” Now, that seems a little braggadocio at first. It seems arrogant for Jesus to say, “I could call thousands of angels if I wanted to”—until you realize Jesus was telling the truth. He could have called thousands of angels because He was God. Jesus had a perfect understanding of who He was. He didn’t think more highly of Himself or more lowly of Himself. As Paul said in Philippians 2:5–6, He understood that He was equal to God.

You can only sacrifice what is truly yours to begin with. And the first act of servanthood is to realize what God has given you. Any good thing in your life is the result of what God has given to you.

***
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Developing a Trusting Heart” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

 

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