Monday, August 2, 2010

“Giving of Oneself” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday August 8, 2010

Purpose: To realize that expressing the mind or attitude of Christ results in a willingness to serve others.

Scripture Text: Philippians 2:1-13 (NRSV)

Philippians 2:1-13
(1)If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, (2)make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (3)Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. (4)Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. (5)Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, (6 ) who, though he was in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, (7) but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, (8) he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. (9) Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name (10) so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

(12)Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; (13)for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

This week's lesson contains one of the best known and most significant of all of Paul's writings. It focuses on the kenosis (emptying) of Christ during His incarnation. This does not mean Christ surrendered any attributes of deity, but that he took on the limitations of humanity. Imagine Christ in His pre-incarnate glory, and then consider what he willingly forsook, giving up some of His divine prerogatives, while living as a man, here on earth.

Paul begins this passage with the four “ifs” and if they are true, other truths will follow. If we are encouraged or the encourager, if we comfort or give consolation, if we share in the spirit, and have compassion and sympathy, Paul says “then make my joy complete” by being of the same mind, having the same love and living in full agreement. Paul was counseling the Philippians as a pastor, not unlike Rodney King's statement of “can't we all get along.”

Verse 3 and 4 highlights the contrast between the first two verses and what is more common among men, that of a conceited and judgmental attitude. Isn't it amazing that, we know more about our own flaws and weaknesses than anybody else, but choose to highlight others shortcomings rather than address our own. Imagine if others knew as much about you, as you do, a sobering thought isn't it? What if my interest were really learning about your interest? What if we all saw each other and thought about each other in the same way as Christ sees and thinks about us?

Most bible scholars believe these next 6 verses to be part of an early hymn or psalm, which was familiar to the Philippians and other first century Christians. It is certainly a testimony to the humility of Christ. Christ, being a part of the creation of everything, willingly giving everything up, and going from the creator to the created, from immortal to mortal, from the King of Kings, to the slave of all slaves, from abiding with the Father to being forsaken by the Father. Jesus' reward comes in verse 9 when Jesus Christ is restored to His original position and the Father now exalts him above everyone and everything. Why, because of Christ obedience. There must be a lesson for us somewhere in that example.

Paul closes this portion by telling the Philippians to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” I think the fear and trembling gets left off of this passage too often. When we see what Christ gave up and what He suffered, to achieve our salvation, we should all be in awe of such a servant, with such obedience, but also know that with Christ in us, we too can live a life that shows both humility and victory. Christ in me, the hope of glory.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this insightful commentary. I left my UMI commentary at home but was happy to have found yours here. I made sure to credit you
in referencing your last lines. God bless!

Burgess Walter said...

Thanks for taking the time to share