Philippians 2:5–9 says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.”
When Jesus humbled Himself in the last unequaled step of humility and love by dying on the cross, Scripture says that, “Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him.” Love and humility is the road that leads us to unity and oneness, and it is the same road Christ walked while on this earth. When we see Him and the extent of His love and humility, choosing the low road, we begin to understand the power of humbling ourselves before our brothers and sisters, just as Jesus did. Consider the words written by the prophet Isaiah about our Lord, the Lamb of God:
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth (Isaiah 53:3, 6–7, NIV, emphasis mine).
Think about the magnitude of these verses. The Son of God, who was there when the heavens and earth were first formed, chose to come to this earth not as an esteemed and highly respected man, but as a helpless baby born in a dirty stable to a poor, unwed mother. To take it further, He died the death of a lawbreaker. The only perfect man ever to live without sin on this earth died on a cross between two thieves. Even with 12 legions of angels at His disposal (see Matthew 26:53) ready and able to stop this great injustice from happening, Jesus chose to remain there—to be broken and humbled and to die. If ever there were a man with the right to fight for himself and against the wrong done to him, it would have been Jesus. But He did not. He never opened His mouth against His accusers or in His own defense, but only said, “Father, forgive them . . . ” (Luke 23:34).
Only when I compare myself with Christ am I able to humble myself with all of my heart. What breaks relationships and sows disunity is my thinking I am better than somebody else, that my way is right or that my conviction is better than another’s. But when I compare myself with Christ, who am I? Who am I to say, “I am right”? Who am I to stand up for the way I think things should be? Scripture says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant” (Philippians 2:5–7).
It is when we choose to have “this mind in us,” to see Jesus and follow Him in our relationships, that He will be exalted in our lives, in our brother’s life, in the Church and throughout the nations. Is this not our ultimate goal, to exalt and bring honor to the name of Christ? When we choose to walk in love and humility toward one another as He did—even to the very ones who crucified Him—we will see Him exalted. The world will know we are His disciples by our love for each other, and they will come to bow before Him because of this love.
Recently a brother who serves with our movement came to me upset about a particular situation involving some of the people he works with. When he came to talk to me about it, I knew from the moment he entered the room how upset he was.
“Please! I did not come to argue with you, Brother K.P.,” he said. “You are my leader. I will do anything you tell me to do. Just let me tell you the facts.” And so—one, two, three, four, five—he laid out for me the whole story, explaining all that had happened and how he was right. Then he raised his voice a little, and I could hear the pain in it as he said, “Brother K.P., tell me, am I wrong?”
I had to calm down because I didn’t want to raise my voice as well. I said, “You know, you are absolutely right.” I think he was expecting that I would argue with him or point out something wrong. But I said, “You are perfectly right.” And he was. But my question to him was this: “Was your attitude in the situation Christlike? Was your response Christlike? Did they hear the mercy and love of Jesus in your voice? Did they see in you His grace and forgiveness?”
There was silence, and then the conversation continued. I said, “Even though you are correct, would you still ask others to forgive you for your lack of love in handling the situation? Would you bend and break even when you are right?” Jesus did. He could have come down from the cross and proven He was God. But Jesus didn’t do it this way. And by the grace of God, neither did this brother. The next day, even though he was right and the facts were in his favor, he went and asked the others involved in the situation to forgive him.
It is this kind of submission and humility that binds us together and through which Christ is exalted in our lives and on the earth. What I am finding out about myself in dealing with people is that the problem is not outside. It is not the people who keep coming to me, pestering me, beating me, calling me names and telling me how to do things. The problem is that my own heart doesn’t want to bend and break and respond as Christ would, in genuine love and humility.
Let us strive toward this end. “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:1–2).
© 2003 by KP Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.