“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
I love this passage from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Notice how it begins. When Paul wants us to get our act together and change our attitudes and actions, he begins with Jesus. “Be like Jesus!” he says, and then tells us about Jesus.
Did you notice which attributes of Jesus that he calls our attention to?
Sacrifice. Jesus “emptied himself” of a thing he was fully entitled to—his equality with God. He could have called, you remember, ten thousand angels, but he did not. Jesus didn’t take advantage of every right entitled to him. Unfortunately we often miss this example—as our entitlement mentalities clamor for things we don’t deserve. Have you sacrificed anything for your faith lately, or is that off limits?
Service. Most of us don’t mind being servants until we’re treated like one. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. He didn’t do favors for friends who would return them. He healed thankless lepers, preached to confused sinners, and walked through life generally unappreciated for who he really was (see #1, by the way!). Jesus’ attitude of service needs to pervade our lives. “How can I help you?” is a phrase that should typify Christ-followers. Who have you served this week?
Submission. Verse 8 says that Jesus became obedient even to death. Jesus willingly submits to the Father, yet we tend to balk at authority figures. Ephesians 5:21 says that Christians are to submit to one another because of our reverence for Jesus. The judge of the universe submitted himself to the unfair judgment of Pilate. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but Jesus hasn’t asked us to do anything he wouldn’t do himself.
Sacrifice, service, and submission: it is the attitude of Jesus in a capsule. We’ll never match his perfect example, but how do we compare when we look into the mirror of our hearts?