9th Sunday after Pentecost
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In the name of Jesus who humbled himself to be our Savior, dear friends in Christ, what kind of an attitude do you have? We talk about person having a good attitude or a bad attitude, a positive attitude or a negative attitude. Well, what is an attitude? How would you define it? You can’t really see an attitude, but you can see the results or evidences of someone’s attitude as that person reacts to the situations or circumstances that he/she is faced with. It is the thoughts, the opinions, the feelings, we have about the circumstances that we are in. Well, what kind of attitude do you have in life? What are your thoughts, your opinions, your mind-set as you face life, as you interact with other people, as you carry out your day to day affairs? What’s your attitude when something good happens? When something bad happens? When things go well or not so well? Is your attitude positive or negative? Is it self-serving or self-giving? Is it haughty or humble? Careless or caring?
Well, Paul is continuing in his letter to the Christians in Philippi, and as we heard last week, he encouraged the Philippians to find joy in humbly serving others, putting others’ interests ahead of their own, being other-centered instead of self-centered, to look to complete the joy of others. Today, Paul expands on that thought and focuses on the inner attitude of the heart and mind of a Christian, what lies behind the way the Christian lives and the way the Christian acts.
He began: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” The Greek literally says, “This same thing be thinking among you that is in Christ Jesus.” In other words follow Jesus in His mind, His way of thinking, His mindset, have the same frame of mind that Jesus had. Pattern your attitude, your thoughts, your opinions after Jesus. And the verb is in the present tense: do this continually, constantly.
Well, how do you do that? How do you have the same attitude as Jesus? It is God’s promise that He works through His chosen tools. Just like if you were to build a wood cabinet you’d need certain tools or if you were to fix your car you’d need certain tools well God has certain tools that he uses. God’s tool is the Gospel be it in His Word or in the Sacraments, Baptism or the Lord’s Supper. As we make use of God’s tools, He works on our hearts, He conforms our lives to be like the life of Jesus, He gives us a frame of mind similar to Christ’s, a mind-set like His. He causes us to think about others more than ourselves, he gives us a caring attitude instead of a harsh or mean attitude, to be self-less instead of self-seeking. Jesus told us in the Gospel lesson that He set for us an example that we are to do as He has done for us. What did Jesus do for us?
We sometimes refer to Jesus’ state of humiliation and state of exaltation. When we talk about Jesus’ humiliation we don’t so much mean humiliate as we would be if we said something dumb in front of a lot of people and our face turns red. Jesus’ humiliation is what Paul describes in verses 6-8. Jesus, “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” Jesus who is God from all eternity, there is never a time when Jesus did not exist, He existed along with the Father and the Holy Spirit – one God forever, yet He did not consider “equality with God something to be grasped”, He didn’t consider his divine, eternal glory which he had along with the Father and H.S. and had every right to hold on to as something to be held on to at all cost and every expense. When we talk about this all we can consider is mere words, but try to think about the reality of this: Jesus’ knew heaven, had the experience of eternal divine glory, was really and truly in a position where he needed nothing and couldn’t possibly have anything more. And yet, He willingly and freely set all this aside, abandoned it in the interest of saving sinful human beings! He gave up the rights that were due Him for others! That’s the attitude of Christ! That’s the mindset of Christ!
Consider what that meant for Jesus. He chose to set aside the full use of His divine rights. “He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” He was born to a lowly virgin, his first resting place was a feeding trough, He took on human flesh that was subject to pain and exhaustion. On a long, weary trip he chose walk instead of transport himself to his destination. When it rained and made a beautiful day miserable, he didn’t change the weather. When tired or worn out he never transported himself to the Caribbean for a little R and R. He didn’t cause those who ridiculed and mocked him to suddenly go mute. Everything that He did was for others, he accommodated himself to the needs of others, he set aside the full use of his divine power and didn’t use it for his benefit. “Instead he humbled himself and became obedient to death –even death on a cross!” In humility he didn’t insist on his rights as God, He didn’t cause the spit of His accusers to fly back at them, in humility he was obedient to God and willingly experienced pain, suffering, hardships, death. He chose to take upon himself the thing that had no power over him unless he wanted it- death. Why? This was His mindset: He looked to His Father’s will who wants all to be saved and he looked to sinful humanity lost in sin and destined for damnation and He willingly set aside His own interests and did what was needed to rescue the world from sin. Not grudgingly, not half-heartedly, but willingly and gladly. He exchanged his crown of glory for a crown of thorns not because it was in his best interests, but in ours. That’s Jesus’ attitude!
He willingly set aside His rights as God for a time, he accommodated himself to the needs of others, and he willingly suffered and died because that was what was best for sinful human beings! That was Jesus humility, that was Jesus attitude!
But what about us? Do we walk in Jesus’ same humility? Do we share Jesus’ same attitude? Can we say that we have a Jesus attitude? Are we willing to stoop from our “high position” and get our hands dirty to help someone else? Do we insist on our rights no matter the cost? “I work hard all day long, why do I have to do housework, why do I have to help with the children.” Is that Jesus’ attitude? Do we accommodate ourselves to the needs of others? “I don’t have time, it’s their mess let them deal with it, they probably wouldn’t return the favor, someone else should step up for once.” Is that Jesus’ attitude? What about when someone wrongs us, what’s our reaction? “Tit for tat, skin for skin, eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth! They upset me, they embarrassed me, they hurt me, I have every right to get even, to make them suffer, to hold a grudge, to gossip about them, to make them squirm.” Is that Jesus’ attitude?
We wear the name Christian and that implies that we follow Christ. But do we walk in his humility? If we fail to have a genuine concern for others, do we really walk in his humility? If we put ourselves first, neglect the needs of others, insist on our own rights, do we walk in Jesus’ humility? Do we share Jesus’ attitude? It humbles us to compare our lives with the example of Jesus because we must conclude we’ve failed to have the attitude God wants us to have.
And that’s why Jesus’ attitude is so important for us. Thank the Lord that Jesus didn’t insist on His rights as God, that he didn’t come with a self-serving mentality, that he didn’t pay back wrong for wrong. No, in humility Jesus came to suffer and die for you! In humility Jesus was selfless for every time you’ve been selfish! In humility Jesus had a perfect concern for others for every time that you cared more about yourself. In humility Jesus didn’t get even or retaliate for every time you’ve lashed back at someone in anger. Why? That was Jesus’ attitude, His mindset, he thought of you and your salvation.
And He knew the joy that lay before him. Following His life of perfect service and a perfect attitude God exalted him to glory, to the highest place, gave him the name above every name, and everyone above, in, and below the earth will acknowledge Jesus as Lord – believers will with joy, unbelievers with terror. And one day you’re going to fully share in His glory. One day you’re going to enjoy being with Him. And because you have that confidence you can use your life to serve Christ and to serve others. (what does it matter…heaven is your home!)
You’ve been cleansed, you’ve been washed in the blood of Christ shed for your forgiveness, you’ve been set free selfishness and self-service. Selfishness is like a disease it grows and it ruins attitudes, ruins lives, and ruins relationships with other people. But Christ has set you free from that! He’s given you His own humble and selfless attitude! Living with His attitude gives joy for it is the best way to live, Christ demonstrated that for us.
So enjoy a Jesus attitude in your life! Enjoy a Jesus attitude when you wake up in the morning, enjoy a Jesus attitude when you go home with your family, enjoy a Jesus attitude as you go to work and deal with coworkers. Think J-O-Y as you make decisions, as circumstances confront you, have this mindset, this frame of mind – JOY – J – think Jesus, O – think others, Y – think yourself. Enjoy a Jesus attitude walking in His humility and confident that you’ll share in His glory.
“But made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” He willingly set aside the full use His power as God for a time. He took on human flesh, he was born to a lowly virgin, his first resting place was a feeding trough, he had no home to call His own, at the end his possessions amounted to no more than the clothes he wore, he walked, he talked, he lived in this world just as one of His creatures. Why? In order to do what was needed to save people. God demanded humans to be perfect, so Jesus came as our substitute and He became fully human because that is what was needed to save us! That’s Jesus’ attitude!
“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” As a man he was obedient to God in every way, obedient all the way to suffering and death. H
There’s incredible joy in having a Jesus attitude in life. Why? You know where you’re going, you know you have a share in Jesus’ glory, you know the outcome of your life, there isn’t one bad thing in your life that God won’t work for the good, it was true for Jesus and it’s true for you, Jesus suffered and died and God used that for payment of all sins and now Jesus sits in ultimate glory, you get to follow Jesus’ example as you “wash the feet of others.” God has set us free from selfishness and self-service. Selfishness is like a disease, we all have run into selfish people- it ruins attitudes, it ruins lives, it ruins relationships with people. Christ has set us free to have the same attitude as Him and it’s joyful!
You want to have a Jesus’ attitude, don’t you? As you live, as you make decisions, think J-O-Y. Jesus is number 1. Others is number 2. And Yourself is last.
Jesus knew the joy that awaited him in the end. You know the joy that awaits you. Confident of the glory that you will share with Jesus you can live with his attitude now.
Well, why would I want to have a Jesus attitude? Because it’s what my God wants of me and its what I want too. It’s my way of thanking Jesus for what He’s done for me. It’s enjoyable. Perhaps we get the idea that it must not have been much fun to be Jesus. He always thought of others first, he always did things for others first. But Jesus had the best life, the most fulfilling life, and is now seated high above all and properly receives all glory and honor.
If we fail to care more about others than ourselves, is the love of Christ in us? If we put ourselves forward or take advantage of others in order to get ahead in life, do we really know Christ? If we insist on our own rights, if we think we deserve this, do we really know our Savior?
Jesus is not just the example we follow, but he is the motivation for the following.
Although the Philippians likely had never personally met Jesus while lived here on this earth, they knew about him. No doubt Paul talked at length about Jesus and His life and what he was like. We too, of course, haven’t personally had a chance to witness Christ’s life on earth, but we do have His Word recorded in the gospels that tells us about Christ and his life, his attitudes, his actions. God encourages us as Christians to have the same mindset, the same thinking, the same attitude as that of Christ.
Wow thought: It’s enjoyable to have an attitude like that of Christ Jesus.
The proper recipe for an attitude of Joy: Jesus, Others, Yourself last. Put Jesus first, others second, yourself last.
Note Jesus’ humble attitude: He willingly gave up the full use of his glory, Christians will be willing to give up their rights and liberties for the sake of their neighbors. Jesus willingly took on human flesh in order to be just like us, Christian will gladly accommodate themselves to the needs of their neighbor as far as God’s Word allows. Jesus was obedient, even to death, so ought Christians be ready to suffer wrongs in humble submission to God.
Share in Jesus’ glory
Christians will share in the glory of Christ, if they adopt and cultivate the mind of Christ. If Christians learn true humility and willingly submit to the cross and suffering, then God will also at His time exalt them so that they will enter with Christ into glory.
From Cross to crown- the same as with our Savior is the same as with us. Are you willing to submit yourself to God? Are you ready to forsake all for the sake of Christ? Are you ready to believe in God fully and accept the consequences? Many look for glory in this world and the things of this world, but you can’t have both. The opposite of humility is pride, putting yourself forward, finding ways to promote yourself at the expense and needs of others. Jesus came not to establish a kingdom on earth or to set up paradise here on earth. His mentality was far different and far better. He came to establish an eternal kingdom, an eternal paradise. In order to do so he humbled himself
What did Jesus have in mind? What seemed important to Jesus? What principles did he cherish? What objectives?
Jesus’ humiliation was a voluntary one, he chose to do it, he wanted to do it,
We live in the reality of Jesus’ present reigning over all things
Having the attitude of Jesus is vital in recognizing that we are the face of God in the world and the mask of God to all others. There will come a time, it is closer today than it was yesterday, that Jesus will return and every knee will bend to give him glory. There will be some doing it out of grateful joy and gladness, there will be others out of shame and regret.
Luther commented (and others) that we can become little Christs to one another: serving one another, helping others out from the thankfulness of him who gave himself for us and redeemed us.