In Philippians 2 Paul begins his instructions for the people in the church in Philippi by exhorting them to practice humility. Humility is a big deal in the conservative culture that I live in, to the point that folks actually take pride in being humble! We in the church usually view being humble as not engaging in any kind of self-promotion. We avoid talking about our accomplishments, deflect praise at every turn, and (in some churches) sit silently when the choir anthem or special music is done, because all praise should go to God and God alone.
Avoiding self-promotion isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t believe that is the main point of what Paul is saying in Philippians 2. He comes right out and says in verse 5 that “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:” Jesus’ attitude is found in verse 7 – “but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. We are called to be servants in our homes, in our churches, and wherever we go. Viewing ourselves as servants is the kind of humility that Paul is talking about!
In our church circles we often use a phrase to describe someone who is always willing to help… we say they have the “heart of a servant.” While having the “heart of a servant” is an admirable quality, I wonder if we really understand what that phrase should mean. Dr. Thomas Constable makes the follow distinction between being a servant and being a helper:
When looking at that table, I definitely have more of a helper’s heart than a servant’s heart! So the challenge that comes to me from Philippians 2 is this:
What would my marriage, my family, and my church look like if I was truly obedient to Paul’s command to walk in humility and take the very nature of a servant that Jesus took while he walked on this earth?