Christ "Emptied Himself"
When we looked at Philippians 2:5 we found that it encouraged the reader to “have the mind of Christ”, that is, to have the same attitude that he possesses. The verses immediately following describe two of Christ’s attitudes.
Philippians 2:6–8 (HCSB)
6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. 7 Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, 8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross.
Jesus did not consider using that fact that he was part of the Trinity, the very Son
of God, for his own benefit while he lived on earth. Quite the opposite, Jesus
humbled himself. He “emptied himself”. Christ set aside all thoughts of the privileges that were rightfully his as the Son of God, and considered himself a slave. He took on the demeanor of a slave. He made himself available to the wants and needs of those he served. He willingly left his heavenly throne, to live as a common man, walk dusty streets, endure hurtful criticism, and was misunderstood by those who loved him most.
He was obedient to the will of God and submitted himself to physical death on a
cross; a death that included all the pain that accompanied a crucifixion. This was his supreme act of love given freely for us.
I recently heard the testimony of Kathie Moss, the mother of Megan, a young woman who was facing a health crisis a few years ago. Megan, as a high school
student, had written in her journal about her desire to be used of God. She indicated that she would obey God so that others would come to know Jesus. Megan had a history of heart problems and at the age of 24, this condition could have taken her life. God answered her prayer, and the prayers of thousands of others around the world. Because of the miracle God performed, her story of faith was told through all forms of media; television, radio, newspaper, internet, and a book. When Megan wrote those words in her journal as a teenager, she had no idea how God word answer her prayer. However, she meant every word. You can read her story in the book Megan’s Heart, by Sharon Bushey.
As a teenager, Megan emptied herself before God for his use. Her love for
Christ was so deep and so complete that she held nothing back. She humbled
herself and became obedient to Christ.
As a person who follows Christ, there are two questions that I need to answer in
light of these verses.
How do I empty myself for Christ?
Am I being obedient to the leading of the Lord every day?
Dear Lord, help me to empty myself for you. Help me to humble myself to serve
others, and to be willing to obey you, no matter what circumstances you allow in
Molding My Mind to be Like Christ
Throughout God’s Word we are instructed to “be like Christ.” Philippians 2:5 is even more specific. This verse commands us to think like Christ, to have His mindset. This is a verse that keeps me on track. You will see it below in three different translations helping to explain its full meaning.
"Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus." (HCSB)
”In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (NIV)
”Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (NKJV)
I need to think like Christ, to have the same mind as Christ, to
have his attitude. I have fallen short of this many times.
Several years ago a colleague and I were reviewing the previous
night’s presentation. She kindly asked me what I thought I might do differently to be more effective. We were at the beginning of a ten-day blitz to introduce a new venture. I was so excited that I hadn’t stopped to even consider if I should change my presentation. Why would I? After all, the Lord helped me prepare it, so why would I change it? Allowing myself to accept my younger friend’s gentle guidance helped me improve the message, and keep the humble attitude befitting a Christian.
The Lord impressed two things upon me during those days. 1. I
still have much to learn, and, 2. I should be willing to learn from those I am leading, even those younger than me. Listening to those around me, and considering the ideas and possible solutions of others goes a long way toward helping me improve my effectiveness.
As we continued our trip, we were seeing God at work along the
way, but, even so, our relationship grew strained. Several days of travel in a small car, covering hundreds of miles took a toll. We both needed a “time out”. God spoke to me, and showed me my wrong attitude. I was putting myself first. Once we reconciled with God and each other, we were able to finish our tour with God’s blessing and our venture was off to a good start.
When I acknowledged my wrong attitude to Christ, and to my dear
friend, sweet communion with my Lord and my colleague was restored.
This step in following Jesus, having Christ’s attitude, is one
that raises another question. Just what was Christ’s attitude?
We will explore that next time.
Follow Christ’s First Step
One of the verses we looked at last time encouraged us to follow Christ’s steps. Today we are going to look at what his first step was.
I’m not a theologian. I have no idea at what point in his earthly life Jesus became aware of what the future held for him. However, I believe that by the age of twelve, Jesus knew something of His Heavenly Father’s plan for his future. I believe Jesus understood that he was the Only Son of God, and that God the Father had placed him on the earth to fulfill God’s plan.
Jesus and his family were in Jerusalem for the annual celebration of the Feast of the Passover. Like many twelve year olds, Jesus was inquisitive, and went off on his own. He was found three days later in deep discussion with the teachers and leaders of the synagogue.
Luke 2:46–47 (NRSV)
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.
The traditional method of Jewish teaching was for the Rabi and the student to engage in both asking and answering questions. It seems that this is exactly what was happening between Jesus and the teachers that day. Those who heard the discussion “were amazed”. The questions Jesus asked and the answers he gave indicated there was something very unique about this young man. That day, God offered a glimpse of who Jesus really was, although most did not understand that this young man was the long awaited Messiah.
After Jesus’ three-day adventure, he followed his parents back home. Even Jesus, the son of God, creator of the universe, the one who would one day have millions follow him, began his ministry by following others.
Luke 2:51 & 52 (HCSB)
Then He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
Jesus followed his parents home and willingly obeyed them.
Lord Jesus, help me follow your every step. Help me follow you, even though I am uncertain as to where you will lead me. Please give me the strength to be an example of a willing obedient follower, so that others will learn to follow your footsteps also.
Debi Snider... more
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