Updated: Apr 12, 2021
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
As Paul continues the theme of unity and humility, he directs our attention to our ultimate example, Jesus Christ. His life on earth provided a blueprint that has been followed throughout history by men and women who sacrificed much for the good of others. While we should strive to imitate Christ as we put the needs of others ahead of our own interests, there is no better example of unity and humility than that which our Lord Himself demonstrated when He left heaven, took on human flesh, and died on the cross as a payment for our sins.
We are called to have the same attitude that Jesus had. He was willing to suffer and endure betrayal because His mind was set solely on the glory of His Father. He boldly withstood temptation and remained steadfast against persecution because His sole desire was to accomplish the will of the One who sent Him.
Paul urges us to have this attitude “which was also in Christ Jesus.” But how? We must cultivate in our hearts and minds the same desires that He possessed. This is no easy task but a daily choice. Is your heart motivated only by bringing glory to God? It is regrettable that many Christians, though more than happy to see God glorified, also seek to keep a portion of the praise and popularity for themselves. We want God to be honored, but we also crave the credit we think we deserve. This cannot be our motivation for helping others. To live out the beautiful challenge of this passage, our only desire must be to credit God alone for the great things He has done.
Is it your ambition in life to do the will of the Father? Too often, we as believers are willing to obey the Lord as long as His will coordinates with our preferences. What about when God’s will is painful? Humiliating? Lonely? What is our response when the Lord’s will collides with our flesh and requires that we deny ourselves and offer our lives as a living sacrifice? If we are to follow the pattern Jesus set for us, the cry of our heart and the obedience of our lives must give evidence that God’s will is our all-consuming passion.
Our precious Savior left His rightful home in Heaven to dwell in a world that could never deserve His presence. Yet, He did not cling to His privileges as the Son of God but rather, willingly exchanged the adoration of the angels for the accusation of unbelieving men. Enduring the trials and temptations common to man, Christ became a bondservant. He loved, served, helped, comforted, and cared. He was not praised and celebrated as was His due but suffered threats, scourging, and a brutal criminal’s death. Through this great display of humiliation, He made it possible that we could one day dwell in Heaven, a home we could never hope to deserve.
Scripture calls us to live each day with the same attitude as Jesus. The type, degree, and duration of our suffering are wholly under the providence of God. But the manner in which we suffer depends upon our mindset. Are we ready to receive whatever the Lord may bring our way? Though we are not called to suffer in the same way Jesus did, we are absolutely commanded to endure with the same attitude.
The life of Jesus culminated in His ultimate suffering as He submitted to death – “even death on a cross.” Not only was crucifixion an indescribably painful death, it was designed to degrade and humiliate. Just imagine! The One who knew only the perfect fellowship of the Father and Holy Spirit, the pristine environment of Heaven and the praise of angels, now suffered a criminal’s death on a cross. How unimaginable that the Prince of Heaven would consent to be spit upon, blindfolded and beaten, His flesh ripped to shreds and torn from His back. With nails driven through the very hands that offered healing and hope, Jesus gave Himself over to an agonizing death, never faltering in His devotion to the Father. Why would He endure such pain and shame? God willed that His Son should die such a death to pay for the sins of His people, and in so doing, bring glory to the Father.
While you and I could never purchase the redemption of another, we can emulate the attitude of Jesus as it is so thoroughly revealed to us in the pages of Scripture. As we follow the example of Christ, we can live as He lived, with complete abandonment to God. The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 2:21, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” We are to walk as He walked and live as He lived. How can we live in such a way? Only by possessing “this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.”
To what lengths does your obedience extend? Are you willing to walk whatever path the Lord lays before you? Are you so committed to following the steps of Jesus that you will obey the will of the Father regardless of the cost? It is far too common that Christians admire the life and death of Jesus but fail to imitate His attitude. Remember, Scripture commands us not only to praise and celebrate God’s Son but to follow in His steps. His path was that of serving others, of compassion, of humility. Can you say that these Godly characteristics are true of you?
Consider today how you can live the life of a servant, remaining obedient even in your greatest moment of hardship. The hallmark of a Christian should be a life of selfless ministry. As you minister to others, do not chase after personal recognition; even the world sacrifices much if compensated enough. Instead, entrust your spiritual journey to the Lord, Who sees what is done in secret and rewards the faithful (Matthew 6:6). As you follow in the steps of Christ, you bring glory and pleasure to the Father. What more do you require to fulfill the mission of your life?