Philippians Study #3

The Call to Humility

Matt Destry – Communications Pastor

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” (A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God)

When Paul exhorts the Philippian church to an attitude of oneness and a spirit of humility, he has one example in mind; one person to whom all others bow. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others more significant than yourselves”. He then encourages them that their attitude should be the same as that of the Master (Philippians 2:1-5).

If there is a flaw in our concept of humility, our notion of sacrifice, it is this: we feel good about our own humility when we compare it to someone whom we consider to be ‘less humble’. It sounds like this: “I know I shouldn’t be selfish, but have you met so-and-so? All they do is talk about themselves – I’m certainly not like that…” Do you see what has happened? We have used a command on humility to be a platform for our pride.

When anyone turns to Christ, their nature is also crucified. When anyone is in Christ, “they are a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come”. The hard part is that our human nature dies a long and slow death – much longer than we would like! When Paul leads people to humility in Philippians 2, it is in the context of many problems – political problems in Rome, theological problems in Philippi, and relational problems in the church. The need for humility is so apparent, yet so hard to do!

This is when Tozer’s advice is perfect for us. We do not tune our ‘humility’ with another person or group – we tune our humility to Christ. He alone is the standard, for he alone is the one who left heavenly glory for the pain of the cross. There is then no grounds for boasting – it is excluded. There is no grounds for comparison – for our standard (and our righteousness) is in Him. The call for humility and the grace for humility is alone found in Christ.

Reflection Questions

1/ How could you best position your heart to be humble before God?
2/ Read Isaiah 66:2. What are the characteristics of someone who gets God’s attention?
3/ In what areas of your life is God challenging you to exercise humility and grace?