Emptied Out

Read: Philippians 2:5-11

[He] emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant. (v. 7)

Paul loved the Philippian church. But he had heard that the sin of pride had become a problem for them. It often is for all of us. Pride tears holes in our Christlikeness and fractures congregational unity because pride is the anti-Jesus state of mind. Humility is the core Christian virtue. On this day after Christmas, it is good to be reminded that when Jesus was born as a vulnerable, truly human infant, he had given up so much in order to be a humble servant of all.

The passage we read today is an early church hymn. It may have been as familiar to the Philippians as “Amazing Grace” is to most of us. Paul quotes it to say, “You know the song, now live out its lyrics!” The key verse is where we are told that Jesus emptied himself. The Son of God willingly gave up some of the usual perks of divinity (though still remaining fully divine) in order to be born human.

The birth we celebrate at Christmas was in service to exactly one grim goal: that Jesus could die. For all of us, birth leads to a terminal condition called life. We all die and that becomes inevitable the moment we come to life. Death, however, is not the usual order of business for the Son of God. His sacrificial death had to be chosen. Christ made that choice. As Paul reminds us, that sets the example for all of us now to follow. —Scott Hoezee

As you pray, ask the Spirit to root out any pride from your heart.

About the Author

Scott Hoezee is an ordained pastor in the Christian Reformed Church of North America. He served two Michigan congregations from 1990-2005 and since 2005 has been a faculty member at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he serves chiefly as the Director of The Center for Excellence in Preaching. He is the author of several books, including most recently Why We Listen to Sermons (Calvin Press 2019) and is the co-host of the “Groundwork” radio program.