In this chapter Paul shows us how his joy can be complete and how ours can be as well, through Christ’s example. Paul’s joy comes from believers who are united in purpose (v.2).
Humility means to be unselfish and place other’s needs above our own (v.3). It is the formula of J-O-Y: Place Jesus first, then others, and yourself last. This cuts so much against the grain in a world that states that I must be placed first. Yet, a great deal of suffering results from humanity’s selfishness. The results of “road rage” are a prime example!
How do we experience joy as a Christian? Joy comes by shifting from being self-centered to being Christ-centered. Someone once said, ”He who keeps to himself by himself is apt to be corrupted by the company he keeps.” In contrast, the Christian continually invites Jesus to be his or her companion and model.
We are urged to have the love and humility that Christ had in a culture that promotes self as number one. The almost global proliferation of “selfies” –pictures of one’s self--may be indicative of the age we are living in. It may be difficult for some of us to place the needs of others above ourselves. But this is the attitude Christ had and what we should strive for (v.5).
To be humble like Christ is the ultimate example we should seek to emulate (vs.5-7). Christ placed our needs before His own and emptied himself by taking on the lowest form of humanity, as a slave dying on a cross.
Paul ends the chapter (vs.19-30) with examples of two who placed the needs of others first: Timothy and Epaphroditus. Their self-sacrificing service came at a time when people were seeking after their own interests (v.21), very much like today. How encouraging to know that we can bring joy to others by considering their needs above our own.
Edward A. Appollis