“[Jesus] made himself nothing”
Philippians 2:7 (NIV)
Have you ever heard of the book, Humility and how I got it by I. M. Proud? Well don’t waste your time looking for it because it does not exist. However the attribute spoken of, namely humility, is in short supply today.
I recall hearing a chorus being sung by preschool age children where the words said something like, “I am a great big pile of potentiality.” Now there is enough truth in that concept that I am at risk of criticism if I touch that idea in the song. Certainly the little children possess a lot of potential for a variety of things in their future.
But there is enough risk of putting error in the minds of the children that I wish to look at the song carefully to see if it can give the wrong impression in the light of what our Creator says in His book, the Bible.
First there is the subtle potential for pride if we think of ourselves as being wonderful, capable, able to achieve anything our hearts desire. Pride, according to Scripture, is an insidious thing that often motivates us to selfish and sinful enterprises.
For example, when I think of myself as great and accomplished, I am tempted to think I am deserving of more than I receive. So I will succumb to the temptation to solicit praise for myself. In his classic book David Copperfield, Charles Dickens writes about a character named Uriah Heep. Heep suffered from incurable pride it seems. He went around saying, “I am an ‘umble (humble) man.”
Now confessing humility is a sure sign of pride. Such a person is soliciting compliments that speak of their great character. As you read Dicken’s book you discover that Heep not only craved compliments he craved other peoples’ money and actively sought to steal it from them.
In our verse we read that Jesus “made himself nothing”. By this the writer is speaking of how Jesus gave up all His rights in heaven and entered His own creation, assuming the limitations He had never experienced before, lived in poverty, never attended prestigious institutions of higher learning, never wrote a world famous book, associated primarily with the lower classes of society, and allowed Himself to be lied about, framed on false charges in court, denied basic human rights of His day, submitted to savage physical torment, and lived his life without even a bed to sleep on.
That is humility of the first order. All of this Jesus willingly submitted to in order to redeem a people for Himself. Jesus forsook all of His prerogatives in heaven so that He might purchase salvation for us. This is love on the grandest scale. Had Jesus been proud He never would have humbled Himself, and allowed Himself to be humiliated as He did for sinners. He “made himself nothing” so that we might be something, something He would treasure forever.
Are you still desiring a better life, more than others around you, more than you have now? Do you feel you “deserve” more? Your life indeed, may be filled with sorrow and pain. But remember that Jesus had it all and gave it up to make a nation of people who would treasure Him above anything or anyone else. Can you be satisfied to have Jesus supposing it means you lose all else that this life offers?