PHILIPPIANS 2:5-8: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: What are the keys to greatness in life? The internet is filled with success seminars and personal improvement gurus. Yet, our call to greatness is not defined by the world or its standards. Our call to greatness is not even defined by our effectiveness in ministry. Our call to greatness is defined by the position and attitude of our hearts.
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, is calling the church to a place of unity, mutual love, and care for one another. In life, it is easy to begin to focus on our own personal needs. We need to be reminded that we are called to love and serve one another. To emphasize this point, Paul calls us to have the mind of Jesus Christ. Then, Paul shows us the two steps to truly having greatness with God.
- “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.”
First, we have to be willing to lay down our personal pride and need for recognition. Everyone wants to be recognized. It is part of our human nature. When a group photo is taken, the first person in the picture you look at is yourself. You want to see how you look. We all care about appearances. Paul reminds us that Jesus Christ was willing to lay down all appearances in order to serve us.
The call to serve is the first call of greatness. Sometimes we serve in order to be noticed and appreciated. Yet, Jesus laid down all of His glory and heavenly recognition, entered this world as a baby, born in the poorest of situations, and to a family that had no royal standing. He left royalty to become a man and serve us. The willingness to serve, without recognition, without the need for thanks, is the first step toward greatness in the Kingdom of God!
- “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28 NKJV
Secondly, in order to be great in the Kingdom of God, we need to be willing to suffer for His sake. It takes humility to suffer for righteousness sake. It takes humility to lay down our defenses and put our trust in God to defend us. It takes humility to surrender to the pathway of obedience – especially when it leads to the cross!
- “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
It would have meant nothing if Jesus simply came to the earth as a man but refused to surrender to the cross. We would still be dead in our sins. There would be no hope, no salvation, no freedom, no eternal life. Yet, Jesus humbled Himself twice. First, He humbled Himself as He became a man. Second, He humbled Himself as He obediently submitted to death on the cross. He was willing to obey God’s calling – even though it cost Him everything!
As we submit to God as servants of His Kingdom, we too will be called to the cross. It is not the call to die for our sins, as this was completed once and for all through the death of Jesus Christ. It is the call to be willing to die to our own personal dreams and take on the mantle of God’s call wherever it will lead us. Our goal must not be our own personal recognition or accomplishment. Our goal must always be to please God and fulfill His calling in our life!
Throughout my life, I have had to die to many dreams that I thought were from God. As I did, as I humbled myself before Him, I discovered that my vision was dim and shortsighted. Each time, as I moved toward the direction of His calling, I discovered that my true personal fulfillment and joy were only discovered as I was willing to die to what I wanted and allowed Him to live through me. I found that greatness is not measured by what we accomplish. Greatness is measured by who we become.
God honors humility and sacrifice. Rest assured, He never forgets our willingness to serve and obey. And, like Jesus Christ, we too will be crowned with His glory when we finish our race of faith!
- “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV
- “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” II Timothy 4:7-8 NKJV
Lord, give me the grace to be a true servant of others. Let me walk in the mind of Jesus Christ. Let me humble myself in obedience to Your call. Help me to fight the good fight of faith and finish the race that You alone have given me. Help me achieve true greatness in life.
In Jesus Name!