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The Price of Humility July 28, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Humililty, Philippians, Religion, Sermons.


Philippians 1:27-2:13

The Earthly Goal of Christian Character is the Advance of the Gospel (1:27-30). Paul introduces this section with the word “only”. If there is only one thing that we should do, it is to live a life that is consistent with our Christian character. Now this touches on a lot of subject but the one on which we are focusing today is the Christian character trait of humility.

Our Patriotic Duty is to Strive Together for the Advance of the Gospel (verse 27). Paul also refers to the strenuous effort of striving together in Philippians 4:3. The national interest of heaven is that we labor together for the advance of the gospel. This involves standing firm in one spirit. “The phrase ‘stand firm’ describes a Roman military formation in which the soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder and back to back with their shields up and their spears outward. It was the strongest possible defensive position” (Pritchard).

Our Opposition Identifies Who We Are (verse 28). Now Paul says this to encourage the Philippians. “Do not be afraid,” he says. “Satan and those under his control will not like the fact that you are passionate for the advance of the gospel. They are going to hell. You are not. Forward…march!”

God has Granted you the Privileges of a Citizen of Heaven (verse 29-30). Do Christians have any rights, any privileges that belong to them and to no one else in the world? They do.

They have been granted the privilege of faith. John 1:12, “But as many as have received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on His name.” Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are you saved through faith, it (grace, salvation, and faith) is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” Acts 14:27 says that God opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

That sounds great and wonderful but the next privilege is a bit more sobering. Believers in Christ have been granted the privilege of suffering on behalf of Christ. Now this is not suffering without a purpose. This suffering is for the advance of the gospel. There are other purposes for suffering that are mentioned elsewhere but it is our privilege to stand firm together, to strive together for the advance of the gospel of Christ and it is our privilege to suffer, to be counted worthy to suffer on behalf of Christ.

This is why it is important that we live as citizens of heaven. Our mission as soldiers of Christ demands it. The differences we have with our enemy demands it. And finally, the privileges we have as citizens of heaven demand it. As Paul says in verse 30, we are in a conflict and it is of upmost importance that we fight the good fight of the gospel of Christ Jesus.

The Price of Humility is to be Shared by Every Believer (1:27, 2:1-4). The last paragraph of chapter one underscores the importance of living in humility and displaying other Christian character traits by commanding us to do this if we do nothing else and then goes on to emphasize why. Beginning in chapter 2, he appeals to what Christ has done for each of us who have believed in Him. In this paragraph he focuses the humility aspect of the Christian life.

Has Christ been of any help to you in your life? Then humble yourself so that you might help others.

Have you experienced love in Christ? Then love others as your love yourself.

Do you feel any partnership or kinship with other believers? Then partner with them in whatever it is that is important to them.

Have you have experienced the mercy of Christ on a deeply emotional level? Then share from the depths of that experience with other believer, showing compassion and mercy to them also.

There is another difference in the last paragraph of the first chapter and the first paragraph of the second chapter. The one emphasizes that we strive together and the second points out that the only way to strive together is when we humble ourselves before each other. Lowliness of mind comes from a word that originally was very negative. In those times it was considered a cowardly character trait to submit yourself to others.

God though has exalted this character trait and said this is what a loving Christian is, one who is not focused on taking care of themselves first. We constantly hear that we must take care of ourselves before we can take care of others and certainly there is some practical truth to that but that is not the mantra by which God wants us to live. We are to live for others. Esteem their needs above our needs.

Now this is very difficult and that is why Paul uses an example to shows us how to do this. He uses Christ to Show Us How to Pay this Price (2:5-11).

Think Humbly (verses 5-7).

How is it possible to like Christ, think humbly? Philippians 2:6 gives us a hint. It says that Jesus did not consider it robbery to be equal with God. In other words, when Jesus considered the situation, when He looked at all the facts, when He evaluated Himself, he said, “Of course, I am God. Who else could I be?” He was willing, however, to lower Himself.

Look at Philippians 3:7-8. Paul says, when I considered my situation, all the things that mattered to me and made me somebody and then I looked at Christ and I evaluated all that was important to me and then considered Christ, I gave it all up for Christ. He says, “My reputation I have thrown away. My race means nothing to me. My zeal is a matter of shame to me. All these things are rubbish.”

“Paul, why can you not boast in those things?”

He would say, “I have considered Christ and I have considered myself. I have determined that to have and to serve Christ is superior to every want and desire and ambition that I might have. I have gained a new master and His name is Jesus.”

Act Sacrificially (verses 8). This sacrifice is both an obedient sacrifice and it is the ultimate sacrifice.

These are the characteristics that God demands from us. True humility is an act of obedience to God. It is not a spiritual gift except in the sense that we are all without exception commanded and empowered by the Holy Spirit to practice humility.

Humility is more than just a mindset about who were are but it demands definite action in our lives. This action of obedient humility will lead you to places of sacrifice of which you did not think possible of yourself, perhaps even to the ultimate sacrifice of physical death but certainly to the ultimate spiritual sacrifice in which you surrender yourself totally to God’s will and way.

Trust the Father’s Evaluation (verses 9-11). When did Christ give up His humility? When God exalted Him to His throne. Now there is coming a day when we will be exalted with Christ.

1Peter 5:6 talks about that day, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,”

The Result is a True Partnership with God and Each Other (2:12-13).

We are commanded to be accomplishing our salvation (verse 12). Now this verse picks up where Paul left off in verse four. This does not mean that we as a group save ourselves. It is clear that we accept Christ as individuals but the Bible is also very clear that we grow as a body. We do not and cannot grow as individuals. That is not our way of life. That is not the conduct. We are an army. We are a team. We are a body. We are a family. It is our duty as an army to stand firm together. It is our duty as a team to strive together for victory. It is our duty as a body to accomplish the task. It is our duty as a family to provide for each others spiritual needs.

This command is based on the effective working of Christ in us (verse 13). Our ability to progress as a body in the faith is based on God’s inner working. If there is no inner working, we cannot accomplish anything. If there is no inner working by God, then any outward signs of salvation that we may perform are in vain. You may put on a form of humility but if there is no inner spiritual connection made based on what God wills and what God does, it does not really mean much.

Obviously, we are not talking about the initial inward work of the Holy Spirit when we trust Christ as Savior but rather are talking about the continuation of that work, the application of that inward change in our hearts, the accomplishment of our salvation in the lives of the individual members. We need God in order to perform spiritually. Just as we need the Holy Spirit to bring us to the place where we will bow down before Jesus Christ and acknowledge Him as our only Master, we need Him to help us to accomplish the love and humility that Paul demands from us. We are totally dependent on Him for both the will, the inward submission, and for the work in us that results in the outward service and labor that the outside world sees.

That is why Paul commands the Philippians to work out their own salvation and then tells them why they can do that, because God is working in them. The constant and consistent reminder to apply through the Holy Spirit your faith in Christ as the only way of salvation will accomplish great things in our lives. This is the partnership that we have with God.



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