Humbled Himself

This devotional is written by Maggie Sandilands. Maggie has been a member of St Mary's for about a century, but is currently living in exile in Scotland. 

Philippians 2:5-11

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-- even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


This passage contains a vision of global power and renown that far surpasses winning political elections, billion-dollar deals, or even Love Island.

Our world worships success, fame and fortune. I like to think I'm more enlightened than that, but then I notice how annoyed I am when I work hard at something but don't get the respect I feel I've earned... or simply when I don't get my own way. No-one wants to be powerless.

Yet Jesus, who was in nature God, who had all power in heaven and earth, gave it up. He humbled himself. He chose to become human.

The word 'humble' comes from the Latin word humus - earth, from which we also get the word human. In Genesis 2, God formed Adam out of the dust of the earth, breathed into life. Jesus is infinite God become human, like us, incarnate in the body of a man; limited, mortal.

As a human, he did not seek power or wealth or pleasure for himself, but became a servant. The start of v7 can also be translated as 'poured out' or 'emptied himself'. Jesus gave up all his rights, powers and privileges, and submitted to a shameful, undeserved death. He poured out his life for the sake of others; for us.

This is the attitude we are called to imitate. Humility is not a lack of self-worth, but submission to God. If I'm honest, even my best attempts at selflessness are tinged with self-interest; I'd like others to think of me as generous, kind. Am I really willing to die? To let go of comfort, self-image, safety? Maybe this kind of radical self-emptying trust is something we can only do in the power of the spirit.

What could you let go of? Pray for God's spirit to fill you.

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