Imagine yourself with the ability to do whatever, whenever, wherever, and however you please. But then imagine limiting yourself in each of those dimensions, willingly. Imagine no more, for it happened at the incarnation of Christ. It is this willingness to be incarnated as a limited human being that reveals the character of God. Of course, He still retains His divinity, for the person of Christ reveals that the two are not exclusive. But the details of this “emptying of self” are described in Philippians 2:5–11, appropriately identified as the mind of Christ. The Greek root, phroneo, denotes mindset (Phil. 1:27; 2:2, 5, 3:15, 16, 19, 4:2, 10), or contextually, the mindset of this incarnation.
Though Jesus, the second part of the heavenly trio, was “in the form of God” and “equal with God,” He condescended into the form of a human being. Interestingly, Christ could have chosen any level of human society, but selected the form of a servant. This Servant could have simply fulfilled the legal obligations, but instead He lived a full righteous life unto death. Again, Christ could have chosen any form of death, but elected the death of the cross.
This is not mere semantics or eloquent poetry. Paul makes a point to explain that Christ’s followers must have the same humility, incarnational way of living, and sacrificial attitude as Jesus. This mindset is the basis of his call for unity between two women involved in ministry (Phil. 4:2). How can we, as His followers, claim our rights and demand justice when our Lord gave up His?
In response to Christ’s self-emptying, God the Father, the first part of the Godhead, exalts Christ, giving Him the highest name—all the universe will ultimately bow at His feet and confess His supremacy. In other words, while we are called to obedience and sacrifice, God who is in the position to do so, will make all things right. He will exalt those who need to be exalted and lower those who need to be lowered. As we trust in the Lord, we are to reproduce this mindset of Christ in all of our relationships (Phil. 1:27) by the power of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead.
Not only because He died on a cross, but in light of his condescension, life, humiliation, resurrection, and final glorification, we ought to live with the same self-forgetful attitude and treat our fellow human beings, by His grace, as He treated us. Won’t you allow Him to create this mindset in you?