This afternoon I read through the Philippians and noticed something interesting: In the second chapter, Paul used a quick reference to the Christmas story to help his readers understand two vital lessons. Philippians 2:4-8 says,
“Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.
Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,
who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be exploited.
Instead he emptied himself
by assuming the form of a servant,
taking on the likeness of humanity.
And when he had come as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross.”
In this letter, Paul looked back at the incarnation of Jesus Christ to show his readers the importance of pursuing humility in their own lives and unity in the church.
In verse 4 he says “look out for… the interests of others.” That’s the pursuit of unity.
In verses 5-8 he explains his reasoning: Jesus Christ had an attitude that allowed him to empty himself and assume the form of a servant. That is, to come to earth as a man.
When we celebrate Christmas, we are celebrating the self-humbling of God.
And Paul says that if Jesus was willing to humble himself so that others might enjoy peace with God, we should adopt the same attitude and pursue peace with one another.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people he favors” (Luke 2:14)!
(In a few months, many of us will celebrate Easter. Easter will remind us that Jesus further humbled himself “by becoming obedient to the point of death- even death on a cross” and “For this reason God highly exalted him…” (2:9).)