How He came — empty of Himself


William “Carey” Northington - Contributing columnist



“Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:5-7a)

This time of the year we celebrate the moments in history when God became Man, when Heaven came to Earth, and when Perfection impacted the Sinful. God sent Jesus, His one and only Son into a world where people wanted to be in control and thought they had all the answers – not much different than how most of us live today.

Often times when we think about Christmas, we look at the Gospels of Matthew and Luke for the account of Jesus’ birth – and well we should. However, let’s look at the coming of Jesus from arguably the greatest persecutor of Jesus and then arguably the greatest follower of Jesus – the Apostle Paul.

Paul wrote in Philippians 2:5-7a, “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men.”

In this letter to the church in Philippi (located today in modern eastern Greece), Paul exhorts his readers to look to Jesus as their example in how to live: “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus…” We can benefit from Paul’s exhortation as well. Paul’s command indicates that he believes we have control over our own attitudes. We know this to be true in our daily lives unless there is some foreign substance controlling us. In order for us to make our attitudes like Jesus, we need to know Jesus’ attitude. We were not there when He walked and taught so this is why it is so important we read and know our Bibles. This helps us in our own lives and with our own struggles.

Paul goes on in this letter to tell us first why Jesus had every right to be above His creation: “…who, existing in the form of God,.…” Jesus came to earth “in the form of God”. In other words (and we know this from other places in the Bible), Jesus was and is God Himself. Jesus and God are one and the same. Let’s go on: Jesus “…did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.” How many times have you had an attitude toward someone else and mostly you thought about how it might benefit you above the other person? All of us have done this but Jesus did not and He is our example that we do not have to either. We can intentionally choose to have an attitude that is outward focused like Jesus.

Finally, Paul writes, “Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men.” Even though Jesus is God, He did not come to earth to promote Himself. Instead, He became like us so that we could identify with Him and He with us eventually giving His own life. A slave is someone who has no rights of His own but He is beholden to His Master. In this case, Jesus willingly became a slave and submitted to His heavenly Father for us out of complete and sacrificial love.

During this Christmas season, remember not only why Jesus came but how He came: as a humble slave not promoting Himself but existing for the benefit of others out of selfless love. Who can you love today not because it is easy but because Jesus did and He wants to give you the power to do the same?

William “Carey” Northington of One Master Ministries in Xenia may be contacted at OneMaster.org.

William “Carey” Northington

Contributing columnist

William “Carey” Northington of One Master Ministries in Xenia may be contacted at OneMaster.org.

William “Carey” Northington of One Master Ministries in Xenia may be contacted at OneMaster.org.