“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).
Life, as it turns out, is a contest for many. So many trying to win the prize as the most high human. On the game board of life, they try to beat the Joneses by buying a bigger house, driving a fancier car and throwing around the most money all for the prize of exalting themselves above others in worldliness.
Unfortunately, what they find out is that, in the process of trying to establish their victory, they discover there are a whole new set of challenges that await them at every level of the game and, in the end, joy is just as elusive as it always was.
In our opening Scripture reference from Philippians 2, God shows us the way to true exaltation. Here we see it doesn’t come through power but from a realization of our own weakness. It doesn’t necessarily come to the one making the rules as much as it does to the one showing obedience.
Christianity is like that. It establishes itself differently than the world. To be first you must be last. To find true freedom you must be willing to surrender everything. To be exalted, you must be humble.
Jesus was the perfect example of humility. Though being the very Son of God, He took on human form so that He could walk among us as teacher and guide. Though equal with the Father in glory and majesty, He allowed Himself to be led to the cross where He would willingly die in our place so that we, the one’s who deserved death because of our sins, might find forgiveness and everlasting life.
Because of this, God has exalted the name of Jesus above every other name, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
You see, Jesus name was exalted because His goal was never to be exalted. Hebrews 5:5 shows us this saying, “So also Christ did not exalt Himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by Him who said to Him, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.”
Christ’s focus was to serve and not to be served. Matthew 20:25-28 shows us how His example is to be the modal for us all.
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
To be exalted, God expects us to be servants to mankind. To be first, we must be willing slaves. This is not to say that God is asking us to be weak sheep among worldly wolves. It is to say that power is shown in those who are willing to admit their weaknesses and that might is shown in our willingness to put others before ourselves.
It seems so foreign to us to seek servanthood instead of worldly acclaim. Its not what we hear everyday from the media, the internet, even in our schools. But to find yourself exalted in God’s eyes, that is exactly what He expects from us.
Exaltation can never really be achieved if one is seeking it. It can only be attained with a humble heart, a willing spirit and a grateful attitude. It’s not easy, because the world will tell you you’re doing it all wrong. But trust in God and serve Him by serving others. If you do this, He will exalt you and, really, that’s the only exultation we should be seeking. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, help us to approach the world as Your humble servants, not seeking our own glory but Yours. Thank You for Your Son as our example. Amen.