(Philippians 2:5-11) In the words of John Chrysostom, “Whether the people you help are worthy or unworthy, the reward for you will be the same.” Let us be reminded by the words of Douglas Rumford, that “full-grown oaks are not produced in three years; neither are servants of God.” The importance of integrity in connection with our servant acts is extremely important. Americans in 1989 were prompted to give to the six primary cable televangelists nearly $700 million. Besides financing the show-biz evangelists’ television and promotional costs, the money didn’t support very much else. Supported by this $700 million were four schools, one hospital, three churches, a couple of ministries for needy children, one home for the poor—and six television shows. Southern Baptists also received that year about $700 million. With that same amount of money, local churches sponsored some 3,700 foreign missionaries, 3,600 home missionaries, about 1,000 state missions, 67 colleges, 6 seminaries, and 23 hospitals. The list goes on and on. Perhaps Calvin Miller is correct in saying that “the world is hungry to see again not people who take our money and entertain us but people who say, ‘For this money I spend, there’s this much need and this much work, and this much touching that needs to be done.’”
In Philippians 2:7, Christ emptied Himself and became a man. The Sovereign Lord of the universe: He who existed in eternity and perfection, in glory and majesty, and in dominion and power stepped down and became a man. But more than this: He who was the Lord and Master of the universe, who deserved all the honor and service of all living creatures, took upon Himself the form of a servant. He became the Servant of men, not only of God, but the servant of men. Imagine! The Lord whom we are to serve, came and served us. The Lord whom we are to love, came and loved us. The Lord whom we are to adore, came and adored us. The Lord whom we are to wait upon, came and waited upon us. The Lord whom we are to minister to, came and ministered to us. The Lord whom we are to seek, came and sought us. The great distance between the majesty of Christ in heaven and the humiliation of Christ upon earth can never be measured. Our understanding of the distance would amount to no more than a small bucket of water compared to the great ocean. But we are commanded to let the same mind of humility flow through us; therefore, we must study the deep humility of Jesus Christ and do our best to grasp and practice it.
Two statements in this verse need further study. First, Jesus Christ made Himself of no reputation; that is, He emptied Himself. The word “emptied” means
to completely empty. It is the picture of pouring water out of a glass until it is empty or of dumping something until it is all removed. The very picture of being completely empty stirs a feeling of just how far Christ went in humbling Himself for us. What was it that was poured or emptied out of Jesus Christ when He left heaven and came to earth? Christ did not lay aside His deity when He came to earth. He laid aside His right to experience only the glory and majesty, honor and worship of heaven.
Secondly, Jesus Christ “was made in the likeness of men.” The word “was made” means to become; a definite entrance into time. Jesus became a man, but it was not to be a permanent state. It was only for a time, a particular period. In the fullness of time He made a definite entrance into the world as a man. Jesus addresses the issue of servanthood in Luke16:13, “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” The Christian cannot serve two masters. There are two masters in life, either God or the things and riches of this world. A person serves one of the two masters. He gives himself either to one or the other. He focuses himself upon the things and riches of the world or upon God. He turns himself over to the things and riches of the world or to God. He thinks primarily upon the things of the world or upon God. He gives his time, energy, and effort to the things of the world or to God. He allows his worldly pursuits to control Christ, or Christ to control his pursuits.
To obey God is a duty not a service. In the words of Jesus, “But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:7-10) The believer is a servant, and a servant is a slave who serves his Master. The believer is to serve and obey the commandments of God until all the work is done. The believer is to be humble in his service for the Lord. No matter what we do for Christ, it is our duty to do it. We are unworthy of the privilege to serve Him. We must keep the focus of our service directly on Jesus Christ. Anything less is self-service and of no eternal value to us or the ones we serve.