Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he
was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but
emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7)
Christmas Day is a full day. Stockings full of goodies. Tummies full of treats. Living rooms full of laughter. Hearts full of joy. It should be this way.
Yet on the first Christmas, in that lowly manger in Bethlehem, a great emptying had just taken place. The Son of God emptied himself. The One who set planets in space, lit up the sun and stars, knows when the mountain goats give birth, tells the ocean waves where to start and stop, and knitted you together in your mother’s womb, took on flesh and blood. He became vulnerable and breakable. The Creator became part of his creation. The Author entered the pages of his story. Jesus, from his first cries to his last breath, had infinite power at his disposal and yet he never took advantage of it. That’s what it means that he “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself.” The Sovereign King became a lowly servant for your sake and mine. It was the only way he could save us. What a God! What a Savior!
Now, the interesting thing about Philippians 2 is that Paul is actually telling us how we ought to live in light of what Jesus did. He’s calling us to embrace the same disposition of humility. If you follow Christ, the one who emptied himself for your sake, then you should empty yourselves for the sake of others.
It’s one thing to sing “mild he lays his glory by” with a cheery smile. It’s altogether another thing to live our lives that way. Maybe you are a parent, boss, coach, teacher, or anyone in some kind of authority. Maybe you have some kind of advantage over others. Do you empty yourself and count others more significant than yourself? Do you serve them? This happens by God’s grace, not your own power. The beauty of the gospel is that when we embrace Jesus by faith, God is gracious and faithful to give us his Spirit so that we progressively become more humble like Jesus. Christmas recalibrates us toward this self-emptying. It wasn’t beneath Jesus to become small, insignificant, unimportant, and meek. That’s the whole point of his incarnation. If we trust and follow him, then it shouldn’t be beneath us either.
Scripture and Reflection Questions
Read Philippians 2:1-11
- Imagine not taking advantage of a high position or authority you have. How does considering the difficultly of this make what Christ did all the more glorious?
- What is comforting about this passage? What is convicting?
- Where do you need to see God move in your life to grow in “counting others more significant” than yourself?
- How might you model Christ-like service and empty yourself today?