Summer Daily Devotional - Philippians 2
Paul's "How to Be Like Jesus" Passage
WWJD? If you know what that stands for, it means you were in church in the 90s. For those who don't know, I'll catch you up. WWJD?...What Would Jesus Do? This was an extremely popular phrase in Christian circles, especially youth groups, intended to be a practical question that would help Christians determine how to display the character of Christ in the present situations they face everyday. The phrase actually didn't originate in the 90's. It had some level of popularity 100 years earlier. The great preacher, Charles Spurgeon even used the phrase in one of his sermons.
I once heard someone (I can't remember who) propose that perhaps we should trade in the what would Jesus do question for two alternative questions: 1. What has Jesus done? 2. What will Jesus do?
While WWJD was a well intentioned movement, I have to agree that these two alternative questions are better questions. We can't possibly hope to know what Jesus would do unless we first know what He has already done, and what He promises He will do in the future. This is the framework Paul uses to give us one of the most straightforward teachings in the Bible on how to be like Jesus. First, he gives us the instructions...
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus... (Philippians 2:3-5)
It doesn't get any clearer or more practical than that. Certainly these verses are worth memorizing so that we can have a gauge by which to measure our attitudes and actions, conforming them to the character of Christ. So there you go...this seems to be Paul's answer to the WWJD question. But wait, he's not done. As we keep reading, we discover that Paul is anchoring his teaching on how to be like Jesus by answering our two alternative questions.
1. What has Jesus done?
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. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)
2. What will Jesus do?
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
The first part of this famous passage is past-oriented. Jesus came once in humility...extreme humility. He, the eternal Son of God clothed in infinite power, put on the clothes of human flesh. He became one of us. He became a man. Not only that, he died a humiliating death on a Roman cross, suffering the punishment of our sin. This is what Jesus has done. The second part of the passage is future-oriented. The Father has exalted Jesus (this implies His resurrection), and His Name is above every other name. Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. When will that happen? It will happen when Jesus comes for a second time. His second coming will not be like His first. He will not come in humility, He will come in glory. This is what Jesus will do.
Now here's what should strengthen the hand of every Christian: As we clothe ourselves in the humility that Jesus displayed in His first coming by obeying the instructions in verses 3-5, we are acting as God's "special agents" in the world, and He uses us to prepare the world for Jesus' second coming. What would Jesus do? How about a third alternative question: What IS Jesus doing? He's using ordinary people like you and me in the everyday realities of life to prepare the way for His eternal Kingdom.