Friday, September 30th Philippians 2:1-11

“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.

Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.  Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Philippians 2:1-11


I don’t know when I first heard the words “enlightened self interest.”  That is the idea that we best serve our own interests when we act in the best interests of others.  I don’t know where it first came from but it feels to me like its a little slippery.  “Self” still gets center stage.


What Paul here is encouraging is more than figuring out how to get our way by trying to align ourselves with the interests of others.  He is doing more than encouraging the more cantankerous of the Philippians to just “get along.”  Instead, he is putting flesh on the bones of following Jesus.


What DID Jesus do?


In most of our Bibles, these verses from Philippians are set in print to look like poetry.  Often Bible commentaries will suggest that these are the words of an “early Christian hymn.”  This is what the earliest Christians were taught about Jesus – unlike the worldly powers that be that strive for dominance and power, Jesus humbled himself.  He aligned with the lowest of the low.  His death was an act of obedience.  God exalted him in his resurrection.


We often forget that Paul wrote his letters before any of the gospels were written down.  Quite frankly, we don’t know how many of the stories about Jesus that Paul actually knew because he never retells any in his letters.  “Remember the time when Jesus…” for Paul is pretty much limited to Jesus’ death and resurrection. 


No one convinced Paul to follow Jesus.  Paul didn’t change his life around on his own because following Jesus suddenly seemed to make sense.  In his own words, Paul says that “For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:11-12


From the beginning, the faith for Paul was less about him than it was about what God might want to do through him. Paul wasn’t acting out of self interest but always seeking to discern and follow God’s interest.  His enlightenment wasn’t about human wisdom but about the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


To follow Jesus then truly means to surrender, to let go, to let God.  It means exactly that.


Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, so often it feels like we have some kind of scoreboard in our heads, always trying to figure out where we stand, what we can get out of the things we do and say.  We measure ourselves over against others.  Help us let go of all of that and simply be.  Simply be who we are in you, who we were created to be and who you have redeemed.  Let it be enough that we do our part, let enough be enough.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


2 Responses to “Friday, September 30th Philippians 2:1-11”

  1. Tina Says:

    It is refreshing to hear the gospel presented this way once again. I am so discouraged by the Joel Osteen’s of this world. This is balm for my soul.

  2. Around the Lutheran Blogosphere « Dim Lamp/קנה רצוץ לא ישבור Says:

    […] Read a daily devotion by Pastor Kerry Nelson here. […]

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