“Let This Mind Be In You...”
(Philippians 2:1-11)

Introduction. This passage is a beautiful admonition and description of Jesus’ example of how God’s people should behave themselves. It describes the view we should have of our own lives, the way we should view others and how the example of Christ should be reflected in our behavior. This morning we are going to focus on a few key parts of this text in order to understand better how to serve the Lord and be pleasing unto Him.

I. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition” (3a). KJV “strife,” ASV “faction,” NASB “selfishness.” Thayer says it refers to “electioneering or intriguing for office.” We have all seen the candidate that says one thing on a campaign and does something else in office. We have seen the person who is your best friend when it serves their interests but forgets you when it does not. Examples of use: Rom 2:8 among things that will receive “indignation and wrath”; Galatians 5:20 it is a “work of the flesh” for which on will “not inherit the kingdom of God.”
     The Holy Spirit tells us as Christians, “let nothing be done” in this way. Our behavior should be consistent - our treatment of other people should have no hidden agendas. Our concern for others should not be dependent upon their advantage to us.

Why is this out of character for a Christian?
  1. “...Or conceit” (3b). KJV & ASV “vainglory” in Gr. lit. “empty-glory.” Not only should Christians not do that which is for selfserving motives, but we must not do the things we do in life with an aim toward the fleeting “glory” of the things of this life.
         A brother told me recently about a friend they have in the world who made a choice to go to some large denominational church. The motive was not because their teaching was sound, or their worship was scriptural. From their own mouth they admitted, “they could do more business there.” What a horrible motive for choosing where to worship!
         This world and all of its glory, wealth, fame and honor will not last. In an instant, in a breath, it vanishes! (Hosea 13:1-3). Example: Saladin the Great, the Sultan who took the so-called “Holy Lands”Êduring the crusades, before his death instructed the herald who carried the banner before him to take the shroud in which he would soon be buried and lift it up on his lance and proclaim, “This, this, is all that remains to Saladin the Great of all his grlory!” Thomas A Kempis, in his Imitation of Christ, observed, “O how shiftly passes the glory of the world!”
         Paul says we must do nothing through “vainglory” - it is fleeting. It vanishes in the grave. Then what good is it then. The Roman poet Martial observed, “glory paid to our ashes comes too late.”
  2. “...In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” (3c). “Lowliness of mind”Êis one word in the Greek. It is a compound, the first part of which refers to that which, “not rising far from the ground” (Thayer). We are to think low of ourselves.
    1. This is not low self-esteem - we are children of God - Christ died for us - we share the image of God.
    2. Nor is it false-humility. Example: The story is told about a man who came to the preacher, and in false humility began to describe what a lowly, pitiful person he was. When the preacher, agreed, he asked who had been talking about him and quickly began to argue that “he was as good as anybody there!” (Colossians 2:18-22) There are some things that people do, for the appearance of self-sacrifice which are deliberately intended to exalt themselves! - Self-righteoussness (e.g. Pharisees - to be seen by men). - Charity - to be seen by men. Jesus said - don’t let you left hand know what your right is doing (Matthew 6:3). This is not just a fugure of speech - it makes certain that our motives are pure!
    3. This is a condition of mind that comes from the choice to recognize the value of others by lessening our own estimate of ourselves.

         Paul says we are to esteem others better than ourselves. How often do we really do this? In our home, - husbands - do we treat our wives better than ourselves? - wives? - brothers? - sisters? parents? - children? - employees? - employeers? - teachers? - brethren? -Êneighbors? Do we instead spend our time focusing on how neglected we are? Or mistreated?
         Do we see other people’s selfishness and not our own? Example: Sometimes we see the selfishness of others, only because of our own selfish ambition. A plate of apples was passed around to some children and one little girl took the largest, red apple for hersef. The next child looked at her and said with indignation, “Your’re so greedy! I meant to take that one myself.”
         How do we really esteem others better than ourselves? By placing their needs, their interests above our own. Example: The story is told of a young man named Daniel Harding, who was one of several who, in a coal mine accident was able to hang on to a chain going down into a pit when rigging colapsed killing a number of men. When a rescuer came down to him on a rope, knowing that the man below him was almost exhausted, urged the man to resue him first - while he was rescued later.

II. “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests...” (4a). NKJV “not only,” NASB “not merely.” There are (of necessity) things that are our on things that we must address in life. This may be the idea. The text literally says (as KJV & ASV point out) “each NOT looking to his own things.”
     Have you ever really tried that? Our gut reaction is to think,if I really do that, my needs will be neglected! I won’t be happy at all. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Read: Luke 6:38 There are times that this is true in this life. The souls who gives themselves unselfishly to others, will never be lacking in love, in friendship, in those who care about them, in people to help in their time of need. - But who are the most unhappy? The selfish. The selfish never have enough. They are never happy with what they are given because their focus is on themselves. Without realizing it they doom themselves! William Gladstone said that “selfishness is the greatest curse of the human race.”
     But what if that isn’t the case. What if there is no reward here - no love returned - no friendship given back. The Christian has the promise that all the good they do is seen by (as Hagar called Him, “the God who sees” (Genesis 16:13) - He will repay!

  1. “...But also for the interests of others” (4b). NKJV editors supply the words “interests”Êto explain the sense of the passage. It is literally just the “things of others.” What might this include? - Wishes? - Needs? - Preferences? - Feelings? - Higher needs? - Spiritual needs? As Christians we need to be careful. We are called to stand against the world but in doing so it is sometimes easy for us to think that it excuses us from this responsibility. We sometimes think that if we “look out for the interests of others”Êwe are timid - we have compromised, or - we are weak. Example: Doing something good but in a way that it is unpalitable. Husband & Wife who are upset with each other - do what normally makes the other happy, but the tone of voice, or attitude makes it distatsteful. It becomes the same as if we had not done it at all! We must ask ourselves:
    1. What effect will my actions have on others? Example: A companion of Louis the 15th, Madame Pompadour was often advised that her actions would bring her country to ruin. In selfish arrogance her famous reply was simply, “After us, the flood!” This has application to issues of church authority. We might imagine that we have some liberty, yet if we act on that what will it lead the next generation to do?
    2. This may be a struggle between the sensitve and the insensitive - the strong and the weak - the gentle and the aggressive. Many doctrinal struggles could be conquered if brothers and sisters would “look out for the interests of others”Êand not just their own interests! Paul’s Example: (I Cor 9:19-23) Did Paul enjoy becoming “like Gentiles”? Did he like showing respect for Jews who tried to kill him? He did so because that was what his Master had done.

III. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (5). The Example of Christ. The whole point of this section leads to this -Êthe example of Christ. It is one thing to consider ourselves Christians. To take a sound position on different issues, to respect Biblical authority, to contend for the faith, but then turn around and treat others with contempt. The coming of Jesus illustrates the way to “look out for the interests of another.”
     What did Jesus do? His mind is reflected by his actions. This is a command to shape our mind after His! Remember, being a Christian means that I am striving to be “Christ-like.” It doesn’t just mean we have obeyed the gospel - it doesn’t just mean we are faithful in worship. Those things are important, but it also means we strive to think like He did.
     Someone says, “I just can’t do that.” There is an inseparatble connection between our deeds and our heart - our actions and our thoughts. Jesus teaches, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). This is the figure of an overflowing vessel. It spills over. We speak hateful - it reflects a heart that hates! Yes, but how doe we shape the mind? How do we control what it thinks? Just as there is a connection that flows out from the heart to our deeds there is a connection that can flow in from our deeds! Read: Romans 12:1,2. Note: Refusing to conform to the world assists us in this transformation of the mind. We have heard the old adage - sow a deed, reap a habit, sow habit reap a character. Deeds sustained can (over time) transform our mind. How long? Sometimes a lifetime. But Paul commands “let this mind be in you.” This is imitating the “likeness of Christ.” What is that likeness?

  1. “Equal with God” (6). The text says He did not consider it “robbery” - that is, it wasn’t something that He had to acquire, He already possessed it Himself. Jesus was God in the flesh. Colossians 2:9 that in Christ “dwells all the fullnes of the Godhead bodily.” I Timothy 3:16 tells us “God was manifested in the flesh.” Now, none of us can become “Christ-like”Êin this sense, but we can consider our own condition in light of others. Let’s make some comparisons.
    • Workplace. You attain a certain status - seniority. Some tasks the new employee has to do you no longer do. How do you feel when your boss requires that you do them?
    • In the home. Your bedtime is 9:00 at a certain age - you get older and then its 10:00. How do you feel if your parents tell you to go to bed at 9:00?
    Note: There is a time when we must rebuke sin, and help others see when they have done wrong - how often do we get upset with others (not over things that are wrong) but things we don”t like? We feel like that’s not the kind of behavior we deserve - we deserve better treatment. So we rebel, complain, grumble, talkback, lashout and demand better treatment! What are we doing when we respond this way? - We are saying we are BETTER than Jesus!
         You say, “That’s not acting like I’m better than Jesus - that’s just standing up for my rights!” OK. If there was ever anyone who deserved good treatment was it not God in the flesh? But what did He do?
  2. “Form of a bondservant” (7a). It is difficult for us to have a clear picture of exactly what this meant at the time in which it was spoken. We enjoy civil rights as no people in human history. In ancient times there was nothing lower in terms of social worth, significance and value than a bondservant! Among the pagans they were considered property in a material, emotional and even sexual sense! A nobleman who hosted a dinner for a Roman emperor, once threw a servant into a pool of moray eels for breaking a piece of crystal!
         Did Jesus deserve this? Absolutely not! Why did he go through this? “In lowliness of mind He esteemed others better than Himself!” - “He looked out not only for His own interests, but also the interests of others.”
    1. Washing disciples feet (John 13:3-5, 12-15). We often look at this and think it is a quaint lllustration of generosity - or sacrifice, but it is more than that! It is God, becoming a bondservant! It is God “esteeming other better than Himself!”
    2. The next time you feel your blood boil - the next time you feel mistreated - the next time you use someone else’s behavior as an excuse for you to act as you should not, or refuse to do what you ought - ask yourself, “Am I better than Jesus?” If not, then what right do we have to refuse to do what He did?
  3. “The likeness of men.” (7b). The Creator became the creation. The inventor - the invention. The potter - the clay! How dare we ever allow ourselves to have an attitude of self pity or arrogance that rebels against how bad we are treated.
         We often get caught up in an aspect of this that I think misses the point. Hebrews 2:14-18 Note: Shared our flesh and blood - made like His brethren. We say, “OK, that means if Jesus retained any privileges and perrogatives of Deity He had an unfair advantage!” That’s not the point! God didn’t Have to cloth Himself in any aspect of flesh - but He did! He didn’t deserve this - but He endured it! That made Him a merciful and faithful High Priest, but it also set an example for us that robs us of any reason to ever stand up and shake our fist at what life throws at us, because what Jesus went through makes it all inconsequential! - “Let this mind be in you!”
  4. “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death” (8). There is not question that Christians sometimes endure what they should not have to. The sinful behavior of others is poured out upon us! How in such cases are we to let the mind of Christ be in us?
    1. Recognize that in this we share in Christ’s sufferings. In Acts 5:41 the Apostles are said to have “departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”
    2. Recognize that in this we share what all Christians endure (I Peter 5:9).
    3. Recognize that God will repay (Romans 12:19).

         Augustine observed, “It was pride that changed angels into devils, it is humility that makes men as angels.” John Buchan said, “without humility there can be no humanity.” When we are talking about salvation, there could be no salvation of mankind without humility on the part of Christ! There can be no acceptance of salvation without humility. Will you humble yourself to accept Christ? Or, do you think you are better than Jesus?