The Expression of Humility
Tim Temple

Introduction

Our passage in this lesson is Philippians, chapter 2, beginning with verse 12.

Philippians 2

12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
14Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
15That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
16Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
17Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
18For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.
19But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.
20For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.
21For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.
22But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.
23Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.
24But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.
25Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.
26For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.
27For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
28I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.
29Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:
30Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.

One of the things that Jesus evidently was most interested in during His earthly life was that His followers would stand together after He was gone. For example, in John, chapter 13, we find Jesus saying:

John 13

35By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

And in John, chapter 17, where Jesus was praying for those who would become believers after He was gone, in that great high priestly prayer, He said:

John 17

20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Jesus taught that it was very, very important how Christians relate to one another; and He brought out in that great high priestly prayer in John, chapter 17, that not only was it important, but that it would also be a demonstration to the world, to the unsaved, of His deity and of His mission as having come from the Father.

In Philippians, chapter 2, Paul is pursuing this very same point. In verses 1-4, there is an exhortation to humility. In verses 5-11, he talks about the example of humility, and that example is the greatest possible example, Jesus Christ. In verses 12-18, he is going to talk about how that humility should be expressed in our lives, some of the specific areas in which it should be expressed. Then in verses 19-30, which we want to talk about also if we have the time, he will give us two examples of humility. The whole subject of this chapter is humility of mental attitude that we all should have.

We want to think about the third and fourth sections of the second chapter of Philippians having to do with the expression of humility and the examples of humility. Thinking about the expression of humility, the fact that we should have the mind of Christ, he says, in verse 5, that it should be very obvious and apparent in our lives when other people look at us.

The Outworking of Salvation

The expression of humility is mentioned first in verses 12 and 13, in what I am referring to as the “outworking of salvation.” Notice in verse 12:

Philippians 2

12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

The word “wherefore,” with which verse 12 begins, ties this paragraph in with all that has gone before it, the fact that we should not be arguing and fussing among ourselves, the fact that we should esteem others better than ourselves, the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is the prime example of that sort of mental attitude. All of those things tied together lead us to verse 12. “Because these things are true,” he says, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

This is the pattern of much New Testament teaching. First, the Lord will tell us about some subject, explain it to us, give us all the reasoning behind it; and then, having explained all that, He will exhort us to put it into practice into our lives.

This particular subject was so important that Paul wants them to pursue it, not just because he is there to breathe down their necks, not to pursue it just for his sake, but it is so important that he wants them to pursue it for their own sake.

Those of us who are parents and those of us who can remember our own childhood may understand from that standpoint what he is saying in verse 12. “Not only in my presence, but in my absence, I want you to express this humility,” is what he is saying.

You can remember what it was like, or you know as a parent what it is like, to give instructions to your children saying, “I want you to do this.” Then you stand there and make sure that they do it. And usually if you do stand there, they will at least make some sort of pretense of doing it; but very often we know as parents that we need to stand there because once we leave the room, something else will be much more interesting and important than whatever we told them to do, and they will never get it done.

Paul is sort of taking that approach, and he says, “Even though I'm not present with you to keep goading you about this and to keep shepherding you about it, it is so important that I want you to pay attention to it even in my absence, even though I am not there to check up on you, even though I am not there to remind you of it.” If he were present with them, they might do it just to please him, but it is so important that they need to pursue it even in his absence.

The subject that is so important is surprisingly stated. And what we have here in verse 12 is a verse that if we are not familiar with it will cause us a great deal of anxiety. The subject that's so important is: Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Someone says, “Aha, I knew it; I knew it. You have to work out your own salvation. I knew the Bible said that; I just didn't know where.” We have a problem with verse 12 because the Scripture says in a number of places that we don't have to work for our salvation.

The Nature of Salvation

One of the basic rules for Bible study is that we always interpret an unclear statement in the light of a clear statement. We do have a number of clear statements in the Scripture concerning the nature of our salvation. For example, in Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 8-9:

Ephesians 2

8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Or Titus, chapter 3, verse 5:

Titus 3

5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Scripture clearly says that salvation is not of works–“not by works of righteousness that we have done.” So the questions is: What does Philippians, chapter 2, verse 12, mean? Obviously it can't be a reference to working for our salvation. The key phrase in verse 12 is the phrase, “work out.” These two words are a translation of one Greek word which means means “to translate” or “to move something from one place to another”–“to transfer,”we might say. It is a word that is occasionly used in the Greek for “translation”–for example, from one language to another. Perhaps a little closer to the point would be the word “transfer.” But here is what he is saying with that in mind: “The example of Christ that's been given and the exhortation to follow His example should be translated from the example into your life.” What he is saying in verse 12, when he says, “work out your own salvation,” is “translate the example of Christ [verses 5-8] into your own experience. Transfer it from the pages of Scripture, transfer it from the theoretical into the reality of your life.”

From Examples Into Action

Here is another of many, many examples of the fact that the Scripture is meant to be practical. God has designed His Word to be usable. It will do us no good no matter how much we read it if it doesn't have some transfer, if it doesn't get worked out in our lives. So that is what he is talking about.

Now there are some other examples we could give of the concept of “working out your salvation.” For example, sometimes Bible teachers used the example of “working out your salvation as you would work out the ground in the garden.” And we know what it means to work out a garden space–to get the weeds out, to get the soil prepared.

Another example would be to work it out as you would work out a deposit of gold or silver that is deposited in the ground. You mine it out; you work it out of the ground. Or, you work it out as you would work soreness out of a muscle. We talk about working out a muscle or working out soreness or pain.

The basic idea is not to work for your salvation, but the idea is to work out into the open that which is already there, because the Scripture tells us that we have the Holy Spirit present in our lives. We have the power of Christ in our lives, and so we have every ability within us to have the kind of mental attitude, the kind of humility that this chapter is talking about. Now the exhortation is to work that out into your life–transfer it from theory into reality, transfer it from example into action in your life.

The Sanctification Aspect of Salvation

Notice, however, in the last part of verse 12, that it is to be done with fear and trembling: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Now what does that mean? Does it mean that as we work out our salvation we should be fearful that we don't attain salvation? Obviously, it can't mean that, because we have just been saying that it's not talking about salvation in the first place. It's talking about that sanctification aspect of our salvation, but it is not talking about whether or not we will get to Heaven, whether or not we have redemption. It's talking about one area of salvation and that is our separated life. So when it says, “do this with fear and trembling,” it doesn't mean be fearful that you won't make it. What does it mean? Perhaps the best way to illustrate, to answer that question, is to tell you a little story that I may have mentioned before.

Several years ago I had an interesting experience, the only time it has happened to me quite this way. I had conducted a wedding, and about ten days after the wedding, I ran into the bride in a store down town. I asked about how married life was so far, and were there any marital problems and all those things that you are supposed to say to newlyweds. She said, “Oh, you know, I am so nervous I don't know what to do. I'm just scared to death.” I said, “Maybe you had better tell me about it.” She said, “Well, we have just gotten back from our honeymoon and tonight is the first night that we are going to eat in our own home. It is the first meal that I am going to cook as a wife, and I am just scared to death.” Well, I understood immediately what she meant, but for purposes again of enjoying myself, I said, “Oh, does Jim beat you if the food is not what he expects it to be? What are you afraid of? Is he going to get a divorce if you don't cook well?” She said, “No, of course not. I'm just afraid he won't be pleased. I'm just afraid he'll be disappointed.”

That is exactly what this verse is talking about. “Work out your own salvation with the full realization that if you don't put it into application in your life, if you don't practice what God has taught us and what God has given us the power to practice, He will be extremely disappointed.” It is not a fear of failure, but it is a fear of disappointing One we love.

This same kind of feeling is experienced by children who desperately want their parents' approval. Sometimes they want it so badly that they even go to the opposite extremes just to get some attention from their parents. They have a fear of not being noticed by their parents. All of us, as husbands and wives, should understand that kind of fear.

Someone has suggested another aspect of the fear, and I think it is legitimate and something that we should mention–the fear of the sin nature as we work out our salvation. Work out your salvation; put it into practice in your life with the full awareness that your sin nature will trip you up, and that you can easily disappoint God in your daily activities because you still have the tendency and the ability to sin. So, you see, even though God has supplied our salvation, and even though it is very real in our lives, and even though He wants us to put it into practice in our lives, there is also from a very legitimate and a very good standpoint the aspect of fear and trembling.

Humility Possible Through God's Power

There are two problems with the instructions given to us in these verses. First, we don't really want to esteem others better than ourselves. Second, it is impossible to do it. These two problems are that we don't want to and we can't. Those are fairly major problems, aren't they? But you know God had that exactly in mind, because notice in verse 13 at what comes next:

Philippians 2

13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

See, Paul anticipated what the thinkers among us would realize, and that is to talk about esteeming others better than ourselves, to talk about even being willing to give up our rights if we need to to meet the needs of others as Christ gave up His rights to meet our needs is simply against the grain of human nature. In the first place, we really don't want to do that. We really don't want to look on the things of others rather than on our own things. Secondly, even if we wanted to we would find ourselves failing, and we wouldn't be able to do it. But the wonderful thing is, God has made it possible for us to do that.

Philippians 2

13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

You see, what verse 13 is saying is that God is able to give you the power to have that kind of humility. God is able to give you the power to have His kind of attitude about other people. Not only that, but He is able to make you want to do it. Isn't that wonderful? God has met both of the problems.

It is important to remember, though, as we think about this, that God never rides roughshod over anybody's will. God never crams Himself down anybody's throat, and you cannot stand and say, “I do not want to have an attitude of humility. I do not want to imitate Jesus Christ,” and expect God to bring verse 13 true in your life. It is true that God worketh in you to will and to do of his good pleasure, but this is for the person who says, “Yes, Lord, I see the importance of properly relating to other people, and I want to do it, but I just can't.” For that kind of man, it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. For the one who is rebellious against God, for the one who says, “I know my rights and I will have my rights.”, God is not going to force him. God is not going to make a robot of him. But for those among us who have a desire to follow God's instructions, the wonderful truth is, He will give us the strength to do it. We will never be able to do it in our own strength, but He can give us the strength to do it.

An Outlook of Serenity

Now, in verses 14-16, we have another aspect of the expression of humility and this is an outlook of serenity. Notice in verse 14, another very difficult commandment:

Philippians 2

14Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

Those of you who are thinking will realize that that is much easier said than done.

Philippians 2

14Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

This phrase, “murmurings and disputings,” is a throwback to the forefathers of Israel as they went about in the wilderness. You will remember the story of the wilderness wanderings described for us in the Old Testament. Time after time, constantly, they were murmuring and disputing. God would tell them to do something, and they would murmur about it, and they would be disgruntled about it, and they might do it, but they didn't like it. God wouldn't do things exactly the way they wanted Him to, so they would be disgruntled about that. God had to rebuke them for it again and again. He had to discipline them. God had to delay their entrance into the promised land.

Paul takes that kind of concept that his Jewish readers would have already been familiar with and he says, “Don't make the same mistake that the Old Testament children of God made.”

Philippians 2

14Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

It has a more practical and a more immediate application also. Let's think about our lives. How many times do we imitate that cartoon that I suppose we have all seen of Dennis the Menace as he sits in the corner and says, “She can make me sit down on the outside, but I am standing up on the inside.” I think that is what he had in mind here. Don't we do a lot of things, but even though we are doing them, we do them with murmurings and disputings?

The Effect of Our Submission

Yes, we are submissive to our parents, but on the inside and maybe even on the outside if we can do it quietly enough, we're murmuring and disputing. We are submissive to our employer, but we really don't think it ought to be done the way he wants it done. We do it because we have to and we need the job, but we are really murmuring and disputing as we do it. We could go on and on–wives murmuring and disputing about something their husband wants done, husbands murmuring and disputing because of the demands of their family or the demands of God. There are many other examples. God says, “Don't do that.”

Philippians 2

14Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

Notice the effect that a life like that would have on the outside world. Notice in verse 15:

Philippians 2

15That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings” is something we can get our teeth into. That is something that we can understand, and that is something we can check off in our lives. Either I am doing that or I am not doing that. It is interesting to me how often practical instruction like that is linked with the effect that it will have on other people. And here is another example of it. The instruction is:

Philippians 2

14Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

If you will obey this Scripture, you will have a definite effect on other people. What is that effect? That you may be light to the outside world. If you will do all things without murmurings and disputings, it will not go unnoticed is what Paul is saying. Notice specifically:

Philippians 2

15That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke,

See, it has to do with our Christian testimony. I think he is speaking of our testimony as a group, but it would also apply individually.

With that in mind, I wonder what kind of reputation we as Christians have in our community. What would be the general concept of Christians in general from what the unsaved, the person who doesn't know anything about the Word of God or the principles of the Word of God, has seen of you? Would his general concept be that Christians are hypocrites, that they do it, but they only do it because they have to? And they let whoever they can know that they really don't like it, but they have to do it anyway. Or would his concept be of people who are submissive to authority, and who are willing to humble themselves to meet the needs of other people? You see, that is the purpose of this instruction. Not only will it meet our needs as a body of believers taking care of each other, but it will have a tremendous impact on those around us.

Exercising Our God-given Ability

The word “blameless” here doesn't mean “perfect.” It doesn't mean that if we will do all things without murmurings and disputings, we will be sinless. The idea of the word “blameless,” both in the English and the Greek, is something like this: If a six-year-old child, a kindergarten or first grade student, writes his name and he spells it correctly, gets all of the letters pointing in the right direction, has them all basically in the right spaces–those of us who have children of that age know exactly what I am talking about–then we say that he has written his name blamelessly. It is not perfect because hopefully we could write it more neatly and more clearly than that. A typewriter or a printer could certainly write it more perfectly than that. It is not perfect writing, but it is blameless because it is the best that he can do at that level of maturity.

If that child is still writing his name exactly that way when he is twenty-six years old, then there is something to worry about. You see, then it is not blameless. It is interesting to me to notice how closely some peoples' signatures as adults resemble their signatures when they were in kindergarten. There is something impressive, I think, about just a scribble for a signature. Anyway, that is another subject.

To be blameless is to be doing the best that you are capable of doing. It is not to be perfect necessarily, but it is to be doing what God has given you the ability to do. And remember that we are talking in the context of verse 13:

Philippians 2

13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

God can give you the ability to do all things without murmurings and disputings. And if you can do that, you will be blameless. There will be no way that people can fix the blame on you. If things aren't going well in your shop or in your office or in your classroom, they will not be able to fix the blame on you if you can do all things without murmurings and disputings.

The Impact of Our Testimony

The word “harmless,” here in verse 15, is basically a medical term in the Greek. It's a word that has to do with giving the right dosage of medicine. We all know that there are many medicines that, given in the wrong proportions, the wrong doses, would be deadly poisonous; but taken in the right dosage, they are a very helpful remedy for whatever the ailment is. And that is what the idea here is. You will be harmless. In other words, you will have the right effect on other people. Your life will not have a killing influence, but rather, it will have a life-giving influence.

Again, we can think of our own experience and how many times the life of a Christian has just the opposite effect of what we would like for it to have. Haven't you had the experience of knowing some unbeliever and hoping that you could have some influence on him and then finding out the only other Christian he knows is some other Christian you know. And you think, “Oh no, of all the Christians that guy could know, that is the last one I would want him to think of.” That is because that Christian has a crippling influence. Our testimony has tremendous impact on the unsaved. God wants us to be very much aware of that.

Unless the life of a believer is controlled by God the Holy Spirit, he can actually have a deadly influence on those around him. So he says, if you will do these things, if you will have the right expression of humility, you will be not only blameless, but you will be harmless. You won't have a killing effect on those around you.

The Purpose of Good Works

Now, God's purpose in such a life, is also stated here in verse 15:

Philippians 2

15…among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Now that really brings us down to God's purpose. God's purpose is that we shine as lights in the world.

Jesus said a very similar thing in Matthew, chapter 5. Jesus is speaking here in the Sermon on the Mount, and he says in verse 16:

Matthew 5

16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

You see, that is the same basic thing that Paul is saying to the Philippians.

Philippians 2

16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

You see, Jesus is using the same illustration–that we are lights to those around us–and He says that good works definitely have a place in life. That place of good works is so that men can see the good works that we do and glorify us as outstanding members of the community. Is that what it says? No! That they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven. That is the rule of thumb–what effect your good works are having on other people. Do the kinds of good works that you do, the kind of testimony you live, cause people to think of you as a good person, or do they ultimately cause people to think of your Father who is in Heaven?

There are a lot of fine folks around, even unsaved good people. But God's purpose is that our good works point to Jesus Christ. It is not enough to just live a good, wholesome, moral life. It is important that we be able to get down to the nitty-gritty and do all things without murmurings and disputings. It is not just the outward form of things, but even our mental attitude that God wants to deal with. If a person can have the kind of mental attitude, the expression of humility that we are talking about here in Philippians, that is the kind of thing that men can then attribute to our Father in Heaven.

Let's go back to Philippians, keeping in mind that he is talking about the fact that our light is to shine in the world. Let's think a little bit more about the light. What is the purpose of light anyway? The purpose of lighting is so that we can see what is there. We don't turn on a light just so that we can look at the light, do we? Even when we have attractive light fixtures, we don't very often sit and marvel at the beauty and the symmetry of the light fixtures. You see, the purpose of the light is not to draw attention to itself. The purpose of a light is to illuminate what is there. And that is why God chooses the illustration of lights for what believers ought to be. You see, we are not to be drawing attention to ourselves. We are to be lighting up the existence of God in our lives and His presence in the world. That is why again and again the Scripture uses the illustration of us as lights.

The Key to Serenity

In verse 16, we have the key to this kind of serenity of outlook. How is it that we are going to be able to do all things without murmurings and disputings, to have an outlook of serenity? Verse 16:

Philippians 2

16Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

“Holding forth the word of life.” Now this phrase is one that has become quite well known by people who like to memorize Scripture. One of my favorite organizations, “Bible Memory Association,” has the wording of this verse emblazoned on an emblem that they display in some of the camps, and sometimes on sweatshirts, and other places where you would put an emblem.

Unfortunately, this is not the best translation of this verse, and it may be a little embarrassing although there is nothing really wrong with what it says. Specifically what this means is, “holding fast the Word of life.” Now, that would involve holding it forth obviously. That would involve being able to demonstrate it to other people, but in the context, what verse 16 is saying is that the only way we are going to be able to have an outlook of serenity, to be able to go through life not murmuring and disputing, not arguing with the authorities over us, meeting the needs of others without murmuring about it, is to hold fast to the Word of God, to learn the Word of God and to obey it and to recognize its authority in our lives. “Holding fast the Word of God.”

An Outpouring of Service

Another expression of humility is the outpouring of service. Look at verse 17-18. Paul, speaking personally here, says:

Philippians 2

17Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
18For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.

The thought may occur to someone at this point, “What if I do all things without murmuring and disputings? What if I esteem others better than myself? What if I give up my rights as Christ did to meet the needs of others, but nobody notices it? What if I sacrifice all these things? What if I not only give up the opportunity to take care of myself, but nobody ever notices?” Paul evidently had had that same kind of thought because that is what's behind the statement in verse 17.

Philippians 2

17Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.

The wording in that verse is such that we would not normally claim it for our life verse. I haven't heard many people quote it as their favorite verse, because it really just doesn't make a whole lot of sense as it is worded. In the Greek, what it says is, “If I be poured out upon the sacrifice and service of your faith…” So the reference is probably to the drink offering of the Old Testament because he says, “If I be poured out upon the sacrifice.” The drink offering of the Old Testament was in the form of oil, some other valuable liquid, so that when the sacrifice was laid on the altar, then an additional sacrifice of the drink offering could be made by pouring the oil over the altar and over the sacrifice.

Now, from the human standpoint that seemed to be a great waste–just pouring out that valuable liquid and letting it be burned up with the fire. But it was considered a legitimate part of worship in the Old Testament, and that is exactly how Paul considered his ministry to others. From a human standpoint, it may seem that Paul just poured his life out for nothing, invested his life with nothing to show for it. It may seem that way to you as you think about whether or not you are going to express humility in your life. What a waste of life. If I just give my life to meet the needs of others, if I really esteem others better than myself, if I really do all things without murmuring and disputing, my life might not ever be noticed.

Paul says that is exactly the kind of attitude that God wants us to have. What kind of a sacrifice would it have been if someone had just said, “I don't want to pour out this valuable oil. I just don't want to pour out this vintage wine on this sacrifice. That would be too big of a waste.”? Well, it would never have been an offering.

Paul said, “If I can consider myself a drink offering, if I can consider that my life has been poured out on the life of someone else for God's glory, then that is a source of great joy to me.” Then he says in verse 18:

Philippians 2

18For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.

You should rejoice in the same way. You know, a good question of the value of what we are doing for the Lord, a good standard by which to evaluate it would be, how much of what you are doing for the Lord would you still be doing if you knew nobody would ever find out? Think of something that you believe you are doing for the Lord, and then think, “What if nobody ever knew that?” Would you still be doing it?

An illustration that strikes terror in my heart is one that a friend of mine some years ago mentioned. One way to find out who the real called-of-God preachers are is to just stop paying all of the preachers for a year, just don't pay them anything. Then at the end of a year, the ones that are still preaching are the real called-of-God ones.

I am not offering that as a motion or a suggestion, but I think that there is some merit in that. Why do we do what we do? Is it an investment for ourselves? Is it for the return, the notice, that we will get out of it? Paul said, “If my life can be considered a drink offering, poured on the sacrifice of your lives, if I can consider that my life has been invested in you other Christians, then I will greatly rejoice in that.” That is exactly the attitude that God wants us to have–an attitude of doing it for the Lord regardless of the notice that it gets or the consequences it may produce.

Examples of Humility

Let me mention in verses 19-30, the examples of humility. Let me just quickly go through these verses. They pretty well speak for themselves. To complete this passage, Paul gives us the example of the lives of two men who exemplify all that he has been talking about. First, in verses 19-24, we have the example of Timothy. Notice in verses 19-21, his care is demonstrated. Paul says:

Philippians 2

19But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.
20[Now notice this] For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.
21For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.

You see, this is just the opposite. What he is saying about all the others besides Timothy is just the opposite of what he has been talking about in this chapter. “All seek their own, but Timothy exemplifies what I have been talking about in this chapter. He has a natural care for you. He is the only man available to me,” Paul says, “who does.” It is a sad commentary, isn't it, on this Christian community of Paul's day? Of all the people around him, Paul says, “The only man I know that I can count on is Timothy, to really come and minister to you.” I wonder how many of us would have to say that verse 21 characterizes our lives.

Philippians 2

21For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.

In verses 22-24, we see his cooperation. He says:

Philippians 2

22But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.
23Him therefore I hope to send presently…

Now it is to be expected that a son will serve with his father. Paul wrote, “He that does not provide for his own household is worse than any infidel.” We are expected to take care of our parents. But Paul says, “Timothy has served with me as a son would with his father.” The interesting thing is that he wasn't Paul's son, and so his cooperation with Paul in the ministry is another example of the expression of humility that we all ought to have.

Balance In the Christian Life

Then in verses 25-30, we have the example of Epaphroditus. Notice his balance:

Philippians 2

25Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

He was directly involved in the exciting life of the Apostle Paul. “He is my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier.” He was intricately involved with Paul's activities, and that must have been exciting, but at the same time, he was willing to be a servant. Notice:

Philippians 2

25…but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

He was right there in the middle of things with Paul, but he had a great balance in his life. He didn't insist on just always being in the middle of things. His balance was that he was also willing to minister. He was willing to serve Paul, and he was willing to serve the Philippians. Don't ever get to the place in your life as a Christian that you think you are too important to serve other people. Jesus said:

Mark 10

45For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Another aspect of Epahroditus as an example is his burden. In verses 26-27:

Philippians 2

26For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.

Notice what his burden was. He was afraid that the Philippians would be worried about his illness. That was his burden–that other people would be concerned about him. Surely this is an example of looking not on your own things but the things of others, as in verse 4. The result of this was high esteem on the part of others. Look at verse 27:

Philippians 2

27For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.

You see, Paul loved Epaphroditus and respected him so highly. What he is saying is, “If Epaphroditus had died, it would have been almost more than I could bear. He means so much to me that to have lost him would have been sorrow heaped upon sorrow.” Again, this is the point of the whole passage. As someone said one time, the way up is down. He that would be the greatest among you, let him be the servant of all. And Epaphroditus was highly esteemed by Paul, because he was Paul's servant, and because he was the servant of the Philippians, and because his concern was always for other people.

The Value of Service for Christ

The final aspect of this example of Epaphroditus is his blessing. In verses 28-30:

Philippians 2

28I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful [see he would be a blessing in their lives when he came to them, but also they would be a blessing in his life] .
29Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:

The reason that they should hold such in reputation is in verse 30:

Philippians 2

30Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.

See, the reason they should hold him in high regard was not because of his eloquence, not because of his great knowledge of the Scripture but because of his work for Christ. That is where real esteem comes from. That's what God puts a value on. How do we serve others, and how do we serve Him? This whole passage is built around the mind of Christ.

Philippians 2

5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

It consists of explanations and examples of the mind of Christ, as well as this exhortation to let this mental attitude be in us. So we come back to the same question again that we have asked ourselves before as we have looked at chapter 2. Where would we be? Ask yourself the question individually. Where would you be now if Jesus Christ had had the mind that you have?

Philippians 2

5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Where would you be if Christ had let the same mind be in Him that is also in you?


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