After reading and rereading chapter 2 of Philippians as well as some commentary from biblegateway.com, I must confess, I’m starting this post with only a vague idea of what I’m going to write, so consider yourself warned haha
The main themes I noticed in this chapter are humility/selflessness and unity among believers. The idea of believers being unified always makes sense and sounds good in theory, but as I was reading, I had trouble picturing what that would look like in a more practical sense. I also had trouble at first figuring out how the seemingly fragmented instructions in this chapter went together until I pondered some more and read some commentary from biblegateway.com and had an “Aha!” — humility, selflessness, not grumbling and complaining all go together beautifully, when you think about it. If you are considering the interests of above your own (verses 3-4), you must connect with them and have some sort of relationship to them, which builds unity. If, on the other hand, you are acting out of “selfish ambition or vain conceit” (verse 3), the connection to others is broken, thus causing disunity.
Also, the instruction to “do everything without grumbling or arguing” makes sense in this context because grumbling and arguing are both a result of looking out for your own interests above the interests of others. When I think about how I squirm uncomfortably every time I read the verse that says not to complain, I realize that complaining, like many other sins, is really an issue of selfishness. The opposite of selfishness is humility/considering others’ needs above my own, which sounds a lot like Love. The fact that selfishness seems to be the opposite of love and also seems to be at the root of many, if not all, of my sins makes perfect sense when I consider that love, on the other hand, “covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
As I think I mentioned in a recent post, being a mom has helped me become more aware of my selfisnhess. I am encouraged when I consider that instead of trying to follow a long list of do’s and don’t’s, I can “cover a multitude of sins” if I can learn to love better, which I think means to become more selfless and to consider others’ needs above my own. The death and resurrection of Christ is the perfect example of what this looks like, described in verses 5-11:
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature<sup class="footnote" value="[a]”>[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature<sup class="footnote" value="[b]”>[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Even though Christ was equal to God, he did not use it “to his own advantage,” but instead, he used his position to save others. This reminds me of a quote from Abraham Lincoln that I read recently on a facebook friend’s profile: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” The most powerful being who ever was, is, and ever will be, the God of the universe, chose to use His power to humble Himself, become a servant, and suffer the punishment for sins He did not commit in order to save the very ones who sinned against Him, and He did it out of love for us all. This is so difficult to grasp when I consider my own selfishness, and just when I feel like I have no hope of becoming anywhere near that selfless and loving, I am encouraged that even though we are to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” this is followed immediately with, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (verses 12-13). My prayer is that God will continue to work in me, that my intentions (“to will”) and my actions (“to act”) might fulfill his good purpose.
Father in heaven, work in me and help me to be more like you, to love selflessly and to put the interests of others above my own interests. This can only happen through the work of your Holy Spirit in me; I cannot do it on my own. I am, as always, desperate for your help, your love, and your grace. Forgive me for my selfishness and make me to be more like you.
In Jesus Holy Name I pray,