So for the past while, God has been laying Philippians on my heart - and this morning I read a piece of it for the "first time"....I love that about God's Word - no matter how many times I read it, it's always new and alive and perfect!
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to you own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
So this passage really spoke to me about what true humility is this morning. As for my dissertation, verses 3-5 hit me head on with God's command to me - Put others first! I get so caught up in how my advisor has wronged me, that I play the victim and completely miss what God may be using me for in his life. A wise friend once told me that she feels part of my stuggle with my advisor is because the spirit of evil is rising up within him as he sees the Spirit of God within me. Oh how I wish that I would initially see the spirit side of things before the natural!
What I love about this passage, though - is that Paul goes on to tell us what putting others before ourselves - true humility - is. In verses 6-11, he gives us a very concise and beautiful description of the meaning of Jesus' life - humility. He begins by asserting the Jesus is God himself (vs. 6 - in very nature God), God in every dimension of his being (Romans 9:5; Colossians 1:15-20). But Jesus was willing to forego his lofty position in heaven, choosing rather to humble himself to be born as a human baby so that he could die as the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 2:2).
Paul describes this process in the verses following. First - Jesus MADE HIMSELF NOTHING (vs. 7). He did not stop being God, but he did lay aside his honor and privilege as God the Son (John 17:5). In so doing, he was submitting to the will of His Father (Matthew 26:39).
Second, Jesus was MADE IN HUMAN LIKENESS (vs. 7). The Creator became the created - the Word became human flesh and lived among us (John 1:14) - amazing! Jesus Christ was like us in every way except for one - He did not sin. He was bound as a man by certain limitations, and he faced temptation, but He never wavered from his purpose of honoring God (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15).
Third, Jesus lived a life of suffering and BECAME OBEDIENT TO DEATH, an agonizing and shameful death on a cross (vs. 8; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 12:2). During his earthly life, He endured mockery and insult (Luke 18:32; 23:11, 36; 1 Peter 2:23; Psalm 22:6-7). Jesus knew what it was to be despised and rejected by men and was familiar with suffering (Isaiah 53:3).
After his humiliation, however, God the Father exalted him to his place of honor. The Son of God came back from the dead and returned to the Father - that one day all of creation will bow before Jesus and confess that He is Lord (vs. 9-11). The question is not, "Will you acknowledge Jesus as Lord?" - but rather, "When will you acknowledge Jesus as Lord?" We can do it now, accepting his payment for our sin and living in grateful obedience to his will. Or we can do it after it is too late - and pay the penalty for our own sin.
In verse 5, Paul reminds us that our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. And what this passage has spoken to me today is, following the model of Jesus, we are called to be willing to give up our rights and position in this life and live in a way that will enable others to experience God's love. But that promise is ours as well! We and those who are drawn by our example will one day share in Jesus' glory in the world to come, where we will reign with him. Romans 8:17 tells us that if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs of Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.
Will you pray that my focus will shift from my situation to what God is doing through my situation? I want to live a life of true humility - one that brings honor to my Father. I have long said that this PhD is just a piece of paper, that it doesn't define me...but I think in this area of my life - I've lost sight of WHO does define me - and in the process extinguished the Light that should be emanating from me to my committee members.