Posts Tagged ‘the way down is the way up’

Humility and promotion: Philippians 2

July 13, 2014


Philippians 2.9-11

The Verse of the Day is found in Philippians 2:9-11:

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

To fully appreciate what God is saying about the name of Jesus Christ, the name above all names, let’s take a look at the preceding verses in Philippians 2:5-9 in the Amplified Bible:

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]

Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained,

But stripped Himself [of all privileges and [rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.

And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!

The extended passage from Philippians 2 reveals the heart of God where we find a place of exchange. Here we find that God exchanges something of lesser value for something of far greater value. God offers beauty for ashes, joy for sorrow, comfort for despair, honor for humility, etc. In the eyes of God, you must first go down that you might go up; as you go before the Lord in humility, He raises you up in honor. As you abase yourself, He exalts you. God puts down those who exalt themselves, but He raises up those who humble themselves.

Jesus Christ is the consummate example of God’s desire, the stunning illustration of the paradox of being abased in humility in order to be exalted or promoted in the eyes of God. God’s intent is expressed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who humbled himself and made himself of no reputation, taking on the form of a servant and becoming obedient, obedient even to the death on the cross. Because of that God has highly exalted Christ and has given Him a name that is above every name. Without question, in terms of promotion with God, humility is the key. Indeed, the way down is the way up.

Jesus Christ points to the duality of humility and promotion when he says in Luke 14:11:

For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted

Jesus Christ associates being humble with a child in Matthew 18:4 (Amplified Bible)

Whoever will humble himself therefore and become like this little child [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving] is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

The same point is made in a different way in Matthew 23:13 in the Amplified Bible:

Whoever exalts himself [with haughtiness and empty pride] shall be humbled (brought low), and whoever humbles himself [whoever has a modest opinion of himself and behaves accordingly] shall be raised to honor.

The essence of this discussion of the paradox of humility and promotion is so clearly expressed in the title prayer from a collection edited by Arthur Bennett: The Valley of VisionA Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions.

The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox thatthe way down is the way up
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine;
let me find Thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.

JD Sebastian offers a worship song and prayer inspired by Philippians 2: