Each day this month I will be answering one question from these December Journal Prompts.
Day 24: Summarize Philippians 2:5-11 in your own words and how it makes you feel.
Lots of people give the advice, “just be yourself.” The problem with this advice is that it leans on the deceptive hearts and wavering emotions of imperfect people to determine how we should treat others. Consider that there might be a better way.
Instead of just being yourself—choosing how to act based on your own opinions, ideas, and emotions—why not allow the example of Jesus to shape the way you view and interact with the world around you?
See, everything that God is, Jesus is. Jesus IS God. And you’d think that someone with such a high profile would flaunt his position and hide behind his prestige. But not Jesus. Jesus gave it all up—his rank, his riches, his reign—to come to earth undercover… as a human servant.
He looked like just another one of the guys. And yet he was different. He was always humble and completely submissive to the will of God the Father, even when it meant taking that long walk up to Golgotha with a cross on his back—the cross that would take his life as a ransom for the multitudes.
Jesus deserves the highest place of honor imaginable. And guess what? God gave it to him. God made his very name more meaningful, more significant, more revolutionary than any other name that’s ever been. His name alone is enough to bring the world to its knees—they just don’t know it yet.
But one day they will. One day everyone—past, present, and future—will find themselves kneeling low before him to acknowledge how truly magnificent he is. Not a mouth will be silent. Every voice will be broadcasting the truth: Jesus is King. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is God.
And God will receive all the glory that he’s due.
This passage begins with an important instruction: “As you deal with one another, you should think and act as Jesus did” (Philippians 2:5, NIrV). But how often do I really do this? To truly think and act like Jesus did would mean more than just the big, obvious stuff—like deciding not to be selfish. Sometimes it would also mean choosing to disregard your seemingly wise human instincts and rationalizations.
I mean, think about it. If Jesus really got the full package deal when he slipped into his human body—which he did—then every ounce of his humanity would have been aggressively rebelling against the mission that he was on earth to accomplish. Because human beings are wired to want to survive, and Jesus was no different. In fact, in Matthew 26 we see how badly Jesus didn’t want to go to his death and how desperately he ached for an escape. And yet, he submitted. He humbly deferred to the will of God, because God’s will was more important than his human desires.
But how often do I rationalize my way out of doing God’s will? How often do I convince myself that something must not be in line with God’s will because it just doesn’t make any sense? I think it happens more than I’d like to admit. Let’s face it. What God asked Jesus to do didn’t make any sense. What God asked Jesus to do didn’t leave Jesus with a resounding sense of peace in his heart. What God asked Jesus to do was radical, and shocking, and tremendously difficult to accept for the people who loved him.
Sometimes God asks us to do big and revolutionary things too. But sometimes he just asks us to do something small—like be kind. And yet, even for that directive we tend to find all kinds of excuses. “They weren’t kind to me either.” Or, “I’m just so tired and overwhelmed because of my situation in life right now.” Or, “I can always apologize later, right?” But Philippians 2:5 teaches us to approach our relationships with the same mindset as Jesus—a mindset that is first and foremost subservient to the will of God the Father, not our human nature.
I know that it’s impossible for me to ever become completely Christ-like 100% of the time (and believe me, I’m nowhere close to that percentage). At the end of the day, I am still human. But I believe there is a better way than to approach my life and my relationships through the lens of my human instincts and emotional reactions. The better way is to look to Jesus. He literally laid down his life to save mine. The least I could do in response to his sacrifice is to be willing to pay his kindness forward.