HAVE THE ATTITUDE OF CHRIST
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus
At the beginning of this epistle, Apostle Paul said,“he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus(1:6).” What is the good work God is carrying outin us? According to Romans 8:29, it is to restore His image after that of Jesus Christ. Apostle Paul was imprisoned in chains. In a time of trial, he needed comfort and support from fellow Christians. But some preached the gospel out of envy and rivalry in order to stir up trouble for Paul. Have you seen anyone who preaches the gospel out of envy and rivalry? How would he look like? How could Christian leaders be so mean toward a suffering fellow servant of God? But Apostle Paul rejoiced because Christ was preached anyway. He had the mind of Christ who served God’s will against His own. In chapter 2, the apostle leads us to have the attitude or mind of Jesus Christ. How can we have the mind of Christ? May the Holy Spirit open our eyes to see the beauty of our God and have an earnest desire to growin Christ’s image.
I. Be one in Christ (vv. 1-4)
In verse 1, Paul mentions the blessings we have in Christ—encouragement, comfort, fellowship with the Spirit, tenderness and compassion. When we are united with Christ, we have fellowship with the Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In Christ, the love of God fills us with all encouragement and comfort. Because of the Lord’s encouragement, we can grow in hope regardless of ourselves. With the comfort of God, we can overcome any sorrow, loneliness, or suffering. Due to our sinful nature, we often fail to live as God’s children. Nevertheless the Three Persons never condemn us or give up on us. Instead, they embrace us with tenderness and compassion. From the deep within, God is compassionate on our fallen state and always lifts us up with his gentle arms so that we may walk again.
After reminding the Philippian Christians of the blessings in Christ, the Apostle appeals to them to make his joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Like many communities, the Philippian church had one problem—disunity. In the heart of the problem were two women leaders—Euodia and Syntyche (4:2). In 4:3, Paul commends the two women for contending at his side in the cause of the gospel. But they did not agree with each other. We don’t know what the issue between them was. We men often don’t understand what’s going on in women. I guess Euodia thought she was more spiritual than Syntyche, but Syntyche thought the other way around.
There is no greater joy for a servant of God than seeing all of his church members united in Christ. When believers are united in love, they are all happy and God’s work flourishes. On the contrary, when believers are divided, they suffer and God’s work also suffers. So the Apostle appeals to the Philippians to remember God’s grace and mercy and have God’s heart toward one another. Before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed for all believers that they may be one (Jn 17:20-21). Why does Godwant to see unity among his people?
God is love (agape). Eternal love is in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for one another. By giving themselves to one another, the Three Persons are perfectly one. Our Lord’s prayer for us is that this same beauty of “oneness” may be manifested among us (Jn 17:11). Jesus said, “Love one another…By this all men will know that you are my disciples…” (Jn 13:34-35). People would know the God of love through Christians’ unity in love. The early Christians were falsely accused as being anti-social, disloyal, and immoral. What changed the Romans to accept Christianity? In their writing, many Romans expressed their amazement about Christians; “See how deeply they love one another!” It was the work of the Holy Spirit through Christians’ unity in love that changed Rome into a Christian nation. Today many people thirst for love. Nevertheless they have negative attitude toward Christianity. I believe they will change when they see how we Christians love one another.
Apostle Paul exhorts the Philippians to have the same mind, the same love, and be one in spirit and purpose. Here Paul is pointing to the mind, love, and purpose of God. What are the mindand love of God? The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all equally God. But the Son voluntarily submits to the Father;the Holy Spirit voluntarily submits to the Father and the Son. Yet the Father does not do anything by himself, but consults and does everything with the Son and the Holy Spirit. While on earth, the Son glorified the Father; the Father and the Holy Spirit encouraged the Son to complete his mission. They shared the deep things in them with one another. Together they loved and thought of the fallen mankind. And they worked together for the same purpose of saving mankind and restoring God’s kingdom on earth. The Son of God agreed to come to earth as a man to save mankind; the Holy Spirit agreed to come to dwell in the people for whom the Son gave his life. Due to the self-giving and self-sacrificing love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we are here as God’s dear children.
On the other hand, what is the mind of sinful man? We love ourselves. We don’t want to submit to anyone, even to our most beloved spouses. Husbands think that their wives should submit to them. Wives think that their husbands should first listen to them. So they fight and husbands have to eat cold meals. Wise men listen to their wives. Most of the time, our interest is not what others need. We want first to be accepted and recognized before working together. Christ died and rose again so that we may die to our sinful nature and become a new creation. God called us to change from self-loving and self-centered people to God-loving and other-centered people. When believers have the mind, love, and purpose of God, there is no division or disunity in a church. Such a church manifests God’s glory. Can we really change? Yes, certainly we can by the power of God. Apostle Paul gives us practical directions forchanging ourselves. Let’s read verses 3 and 4; “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
First, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.” Selfish ambition is a strong desire to achieve power, honor, or recognition for self-glory. If one does God’s work with selfish ambition, the fruit is not healthy. Vain conceit is thinking oneself bigger than he or she is. Have you seen a fish called “blowfish”? If you tickle it a bit, the flabby fish puffs up until it is swollen like a globe. There is little substance in its swollen body except air. A self-conceited person is like the blowfish. Pride breaks the creation order. It breaks relationships. It makes us stubborn, feel hurt, and envious.God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble(Jam 4:6).If we still do anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, we must deeply repent.
Second, “Consider others better than yourselves.” How can we consider our coworkers better than ourselves when their shortcomings and immaturity are evident? Can we really consider the youngest of us as better than ourselves? Yes. We can when we find at least one thing in others that is better than ourselves. I respect and love Pastor Jacob for his love for the Lord, his beautiful life of mission, and his humble and enduring character. In loving patience and persistence, I know Pastor Jacob is far better than me. God has given each of us at least one outstanding quality. God has given that gift to serve God and others with it. Therefore it is important for each of us to recognize the outstanding quality in ourselves as well as in others. Then we can work together in harmony for our community and for God. I thought about what is the good quality I have. I think it is a learning mind. What is yours? Please think about one quality in the person beside you that is better than yourself.
Third, “Look to the interests of others.” How can we have other-centered mind? The first step is to put ourselves in others’ shoes. When we see others by our standards, it is hard for us to understand or accept others. When we try to see others by their standards, we can understand why they think and behave theway they do. Then we can have compassion for them and find what they need. This is how God sees each of us and has compassion on us. Next, we should act to meet the person’s needs. If one needs comfort, give comfort. If one needs encouragement, give encouragement. If one needs friendship, spend time with him. If one needs support of prayer, pray for him. This is what God did and what the Holy Spirit is doing for each of us.
Our life is like a reservoir that receives water and supplies it to the lands. A selfish person is like the Salt Sea in Palestine that receives water but never gives it. Is a selfish person happy? No. we know JOY is an acronym of “Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself third.” An other-centered person is like a reservoir that receives plenty of water and gives it to vast lands. Water in life is like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness(Ga 5:22-23). When we give these to others, the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with more. When we live a life of giving, God is glorified and we become a blessing. We become fruitful in life. Moreover, we are happy. After this life, we cannot take anything from this world. Only what we did for the Lord and others will remain forever. May the Lord bless each of our livesto be a plentiful and resourceful reservoir like the Great Lakes that enriches many lives, beginning with our family and church members, for the glory and praise of God.
So far, Apostle Paul emphasized Christians’ unity by growing after God’s character. Now he points to the highest maturity a Christian can attain through the example of Christ.
II. The example of Christ (vv. 5-11)
Look at verse 5; “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” Here “attitude” was translated as “mind” in verse 2. What was the attitude or mind of Christ?
First, he emptied himself. Look at verses 6-7a; “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing.” Jesus is Eternal God along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. As God, he has the highest glory, honor, and rights. People strive hard to achieve things like titles, positions, fame, and wealth. Then they grasp them and want to be treated accordingly,claimingtheir rights. (I am somebody.) But Jesus did not consider equality with God as something he had to grasp. He emptied himself from supreme glory and made himself nothing. We think renouncing our positions, titles and rightsis humiliating ourselves. The truth is that ourselves do not change when our human condition changes. When Lord Jesus emptied himself, he remained as God the Son. He took on humility, but he was not humiliated.
Second, he became a servant. Verse 7 reads, “…taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Here “the very nature” is the same word used in “the very nature God.” This tells us that the true God became a true servant. He did not imitate or pretend to be a servant; he became a servant. God’s incarnation to be a man is more than a man becoming a worm. But the Son became a man to communicate his gospel to men and serve them. The Son so loved us that he willingly became a man and took the very nature of a servant in order to put himself in our shoes.
Third, he obeyed to the point of death. Verses 8 reads, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Jesus not only became a servant, but also he sacrificed himself until he gave his life for us. In nature, life is nurtured through the sacrifice of parents. Giving fallen man a spiritual life required the greatest sacrifice. So the Son had to take the most painful suffering and sacrifice his life on the cross. It is true that he took this greatest sacrifice because he loved us. But what does the text say? He did it in obedience to the Father. Here we learn that true humility comes from obedience to God’s will. Absolute obedience to God’s will is true humility.
What did God do for Jesus who obeyed him to the point of death? God raised him from the dead and exalted him to the highest place. God gave him the name that is above every name and made him King of kings and Lord of lords. (9-11) What does these verses say about what God honors most? As God exalted Christ with highest honor for his humility, servantship, and obedience, wouldn’t God honor each of us most for our Christ-like character? Even in the world, people respect men and women of noble character. Why? Because people see God’s image in them. God’s utmost purpose is to transform our sinful character into that of Christ. And God will honor everyone for the character of Christ he or she has attained in this life.
Are we willing to empty ourselves? Let’s think about what we have grasped. Would you empty yourself from it now? Are we willing to become servants--not a servant by manner or lips, but a true servant? Are you willing to put yourself in the shoes of others? Are you willing to sacrifice to serve them? May the Lord help us to grow in true humility after the Christ’s example for God’s glory and praise.
III. Work out your salvation (vv. 12-18)
In this part, the Apostle tells us to continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (12). We were saved through faith in Jesus. The fulfillment of our salvation is becoming like Jesus. Working out our salvation means to grow in the image of Jesus. God works in us to will and to act for this good purpose (13). For this, God leads us to certain circumstances, certain people, even sufferings and trials. When we meet adversities, a question that comes to our minds is “Why me”? We can deny ourselves and submit when we accept God’s sovereignty and good purpose. In all things, we must obey God out of reverence fear. When we keep this attitude, we can do everything without complaining or arguing. In verse 15, Apostle Paul calls the world “a crooked and depraved generation.” The characteristic of a crooked and depraved generation is complaining and arguing. In this noisy generation, we can be blameless and pure children of God through Christ-like submission and obedience. We know the beautiful story of Joseph in Genesis. If he thought about all the injustice and ill treatment he received, he would have died early. When he endured all things accepting God’s sovereignty and good will, he could grow in Christ’s image. When we are submissive and obedient, worldly people will see us as strange people. But the Apostle said that we are like stars shining in the universe. Stars in God’s eyes are not movie stars, pop stars, or sports stars, but the Christians who bear Jesus’ image.
In verse 17, Paul said, “But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.” Apostle Paul was once a man far from Jesus’ image. Through his faith and obedience, however, he was transformed into one of the most loving and sacrificial servants of Christ. As shepherd of the Philippian Christians, his utmost prayer was to pour his life like a drink offering on the Christ-like life of the Philippians. Here we learn that our Christ-like life is the sacrifice and service that glorify God most and it should be our supreme purpose in life.
I wanted to live a noble life. So during my college days at the Korea Military Academy, I read writings of world thinkers. While working as an army officer, however, I found myself as a man sickened with sin. I cried out to God for a new life and God answered my prayers by leading me to UBF in 1976. I met Christ who died for my sins and was born again. Then God sent me to Oregon State, USA as a student missionary. God trained me under a professor who demanded my whole weekends for research work. Through this, God humbled my pride and human faithfulness. Then God gave me a new advisor to successfully finish my doctoral study. God also raised three disciples; one is Pastor Ron Ward in Chicago. Through this, God taught me victory through submission to His sovereignty. In Korea, God led me to pioneer a chapter for four universities including the Korea Military Academy. I wanted to obey this calling by becoming a B professor in order to be an A shepherd. Over 10 years, God blessed my ministry and sent out 40 missionaries. God also made me an A professor by promoting me to be a colonel. In 1995, God called me through Dr. Samuel Lee to come to America to be his potential successor. God sent me to Wisconsin to humbly serve Milwaukee chapter for 9 years like a soldier without rank. In 2005, God led my family to Minnesota and has blessed us to raise disciples through beautiful coworking until I was called last August to be General Director. I praise God who transformed a wretched sinner into His servant and led me to live the noblest and fruitful life of following Christ. Learning Jesus and growing in his image has been the greatest blessing in my life. As I was preparing this message, the Lord gave me today’s key verse and told me to follow him to the end. I want to serve the Lord’s will with a daily prayer; “Lord, please open my eyes to see the need of one person and help me to serve the need today.”
May the Lord bless all of us to have the mindset of Christ and serve God’s will for eternal praise and glory. Jesus said to his disciples, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (Jn 15:16). What is the fruit that will last? Our houses or cars? Popularity or positions or achievements? Computers or i-phones? No, these all will disappear. Only three things will remain forever: First, the image of Christ in us; second, people we lead to Christ; and third, what we have given to God. For these three, God will reward us with eternal glory and honor.
May God help us to live for the fruit that will last. May God bless Washington UBF to be the fountains of God’s love and a blessing to America and the world.