If God can do it, then why can't we.

If God can do it, then why can’t we?

Self-sacrifice Pt. 2

Philippians 2:5-9


            Philippians 2:5-11 is one of the pivotal sections in the whole New Testament.  In these few verses, Paul captures the mystery of the incarnation of Christ (more about this in tomorrow’s devotional).  This passage sets for the wonder of God becoming a man.  However, in the marvel of the beauty of this passage, as it relates to Christ’s divine humiliation, we often lose the statement's significance.

            In this passage, Paul did not set out to give a theological statement regarding the incarnation.  While describing the nature of the incarnation, Paul seeks to provide the divine illustration of the principle of self-sacrifice that he just mentioned.  As we saw yesterday, God calls us to focus and prioritize the needs and interests of others, even above our own self-interest and needs.  But this mandate is not just based upon some sociological ideal to maintain our civil society. Instead, the basis is the nature and person of Christ, whom we are called to emulate.  The reason we are to develop an attitude that places the interests of others even above our interests is because we are called to manifest the character of Christ in our lives.  This is the attitude that he himself demonstrated. To become a servant of others is an essential characteristic of becoming Christ-like in our character.

            The greatest mystery of scripture is the incarnation of Christ.  Without question, the fact that Christ came to personally visit humanity on earth and walk amongst us is a marvelous mystery.  For Christ to come to earth as a triumphant and glorious king would still be an act of infinite self-humiliation. But in these words, we discover a truth that is entirely unfathomable.  It is beyond our ability to comprehend the majesty and glory captured in the statement, “He existed in the form of God.”  But even more baffling is the statement that he did not come in the majesty fit a divine being; he came as a bondservant, as a common slave who was the lowest among all humanity and who existed solely for the purpose of serving others.   We can affirm its truth but never fully understand its meaning and significance.  The God of the universe not only took upon himself the nature of man but took on the lowest of men.  To be a bondservant is to be divested of all self-interests and exist solely to serve another.  Gerald Hathorne captures the marvel of this statement when he writes that a slave is “a person without advantage, with no rights or privileges of his own for the express purpose of placating himself completely at the service of all.” God is worthy to be served by the most majestic angels in heaven. Yet, the God of the universe came to serve the ones who are least deserving, the very ones who have displayed the most disdain toward him in the whole universe.  He came to be a servant to us. 

            This brings us to the greatest of paradoxes.  If God himself became a servant to others, then why do we chaff at the idea of being a servant to one another?  If God does not demand the exercise of his rights, why are we so insistent that our rights be upheld?  If God is willing to suffer wrong to overlook the wrong in others, why are we so offended and demanding retribution when others wrong us?  If God can do it, then why can’t we?


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