Jesus illustrates the four characteristics of the person with the submissive mind. In Part 1, we saw the first two traits. Now, we will look at the last two virtues of the person with the submissive mind.
He Sacrifices (2:8)
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Many people are willing to serve others if it does not cost them anything, but if there is a price to pay, they suddenly lose interest. Jesus “became obedient to death, even death on a cross.” His was not the death of a martyr, but the death of a Savior. He willingly laid down His life for the sins of the world.
Ministry that costs nothing accomplishes nothing. If there is to be any blessing, there must be some “bleeding.” At a religious festival in Brazil, a missionary was going from booth to booth, examining the goods. He saw a sign above one booth: “Cheap Crosses.” He thought to himself, “That’s what many Christians are looking for these days—cheap crosses. My Lord’s cross was not cheap. Why should mine be?”
The person with the submissive mind does not avoid sacrifice. He lives for the glory of God and the good of others; and if paying a price will honor Christ and help others, he is willing to do it. This was Paul’s attitude (Phil. 2:17), Timothy’s (Phil. 2:20), and also Epaphroditus’ (Phil. 2:30). Sacrifice and service go together if service is to be true Christian ministry.
A church council was planning the annual “Youth Sunday” program and one of the members suggested the teenagers serve as ushers, lead in prayer, and bring special music. One of the teens stood up and said, “Quite frankly, we’re tired of being asked to do little things. We’d like to do something difficult this year, and maybe keep it going all year long. The youth have talked and prayed about this, and we’d like to work with our trustees in remodeling that basement room so it can be used for a classroom. And we’d like to start visiting our elderly members each week and taking them recordings of the services. We’d also like to have a weekly witness on Sunday afternoons in the park.”
He sat down and the new youth pastor smiled to himself. He had privately challenged the teens to do something that would cost them—and they enthusiastically responded to the challenge. He knew that sacrifice is necessary if there is going to be true growth and ministry.
The test of the submissive mind is not just how much we are willing to take in terms of suffering, but how much we are willing to give in terms of sacrifice. One pastor complained that his men were changing the words of the hymn from “Take my life and let it be” to “Take my wife and let me be!” They were willing for others to make the sacrifices, but they were unwilling to sacrifice for others.
It is one of the paradoxes of the Christian life that the more we give, the more we receive; the more we sacrifice, the more God blesses. This is why the submissive mind leads to joy; it makes us more like Christ. This means sharing His joy as we also share in His sufferings. Of course, when love is the motive (2:1), sacrifice is never measured or mentioned. The person who constantly talks about his sacrifices does not have the submissive mind.
Is it costing you anything to be a Christian?
He Glorifies God (2:9–11)
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This, of course, is the great goal of all that we do—to glorify God. Paul warns us against “selfishness and vainglory” in 2:3. The kind of rivalry that pits Christian against Christian and ministry against ministry is not spiritual, nor is it satisfying. It is vain, empty.
Jesus humbled Himself for others and God highly exalted Him; the result of this exaltation is glory to God. Our Lord’s exaltation began with His resurrection. The very last thing any human hands did to Jesus was bury His body. From that point on, it was God who worked. Men had done their worst to the Savior, but now God exalted Him and honored Him. Men gave Him names of ridicule and slander, but the Father gave Him a glorious name! Just as in His humiliation He was given the name “Jesus” (Matt. 1:21), so in His exaltation He was given the name “Lord” (2:11; Acts 2:32–36). He arose from the dead and then returned in victory to heaven, ascending to the Father’s throne.
His exaltation included sovereign authority over all creatures in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. One day all will bow to Him (Isa. 45:23) and confess He is Lord. Of course, it is possible for people to bow and confess today, and receive His gift of salvation (Rom. 10:9–10). To bow before Him now means salvation; to bow before Him at the judgment means condemnation.
The whole purpose of Christ’s humiliation and exaltation is the glory of God (2:11). As Jesus faced the cross the glory of the Father was paramount in His mind: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, so that the Son may glorify You” (Jn. 17:1). He has given this glory to us (Jn. 17:22) and one day we will share it with Him in heaven (Jn. 17:24; Rom. 8:28–30). The work of salvation is much greater and grander than simply the salvation of a lost soul, as wonderful as that is. The ultimate purpose of our salvation is the glory of God (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14).
The person with the submissive mind, as he lives for others, must expect sacrifice and service; but in the end, it is going to lead to glory: “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Pet. 5:6). Joseph suffered and served for thirteen years; but then God exalted him and made him the second ruler of Egypt. David was anointed king when he was a youth. He experienced years of hardship and suffering, but at the right time, God exalted him as king of Israel.
The joy of the submissive mind comes not only from helping others, and sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings (Phil. 3:10), but primarily from the knowledge that we are glorifying God. We are letting our light shine through our good works and this glorifies the Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16). We may not see the glory today, but we will see it when Jesus comes and rewards His faithful servants.