Thoughts on Philippians 2

J. N. Darby.

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Philippians 3 presents the energy of life and of the Spirit of God in the Christian running toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, that he might win Christ. In chapter 2 we find the display of the gracious affections. But in order to this, the Spirit of God fixes our minds upon Christ looked at in this humble condition, or rather when He humbled Himself. It is beautiful, the way in which, toward the end of the chapter, without an effort, we find the apostle's feelings were all drawn out - the spirit elevated really above the circumstances, but free to unfold itself in gracious affections in the midst of them all. And that is just what the Christian ought to be, having Christ as his one object, the power of the Holy Ghost raising him above all around him, that there should be the display of Christ towards all around him. The Christian's life here ought to be the manifestation of Christ in the midst of the world. For this we must be in constant communion with the source of it. The Christian's life as such down here is the display of Christ's life. It is the life of Jesus manifested in his mortal body.

The Philippians had sent to the apostle to help him, when in prison, with a supply of what he needed. His heart had been touched, and he felt the kindness and love. But while owning it, his heart turns to think of them. The Spirit of life in Christ is at work in him, and he immediately thinks of their things. He is comforted of them and can say, "I know how to abound and to suffer need." I am rejoicing that I can get the blessing from you: but the consequence is that it turns back towards them. He says, "If there be, therefore, any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind."

If the love of Christ is in our hearts, the consequence is that things acquire a character entirely different. They had sent to the apostle what he wanted, and he says there is consolation in Christ. It is not merely the things he got, but the comfort of Christ and fellowship of the Spirit. It was the working of the spirit of grace in Jesus, shewing itself in this fellowship. He says, If you want me to be perfectly happy, go on well among yourselves. There were some little jealousies at work, such things as do spring up amongst Christians; but he takes occasion, by owning all the grace that was in them, to say, "Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." And one just sees how these gracious affections are drawn out and in exercise, where the heart, in the power of the Spirit of God, is carried beyond the things which act on the flesh. His heart turns to Christ as the expression of this. He says, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than themselves." Now if we are not very near Christ, that is often very difficult. We may see great vanity or pride in another, and one may be going on really better than this or that person. I do not mean that the other may be positively sinning; but I may feel that he is not walking spiritually. Yet, if I am practically close to Christ myself, I see my brother in Christ, and then it is not hard to estimate others better than myself. Where I am walking in nearness to Christ, if there is anything consciously wrong in myself, this is what I feel about and not my goodness.

216 The best thing is not to be thinking about myself at all, but to have the sense of my own nothingness, which we always have when we are near the Lord. I feel my nothingness in the presence of Christ. But if I look at my brother, I see Christ in him - not his faults. If we are thus close to the Lord, it is natural to esteem others better than ourselves. We judge ourselves in His presence; but we see the workings of Christ in our brother. The thing that is before us in our brother is Christ. See the amazing privilege of the Christian. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." The state here is the fruit of the energy which is brought before us in chapter 3. There he was counting all as dross and dung, and pressing on toward the mark. That is supposed here, and he says, "Let the same mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." In this passage we get the complete and absolute contrast of all that was in the first Adam and in the flesh now. You are to have the same mind as there was in Christ, looked at from the time that He was in the glory till He came down to the cross. That is what governed all His path from the divine glory down to this nothingness of death, "the dust of death," as it is called. You are to have the same mind as He had all that pathway. And you will see what it is here.

217 It is a wonderful thing to see that we are called upon to have the same mind which was in Christ Jesus. It is from having His nature," who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation." If we look at the first Adam, it was exactly the opposite. He was in the form of man, in the condition of man, and he did set about, as a robbery, to be equal with God. He took it in order to get into this place, to exalt himself; and he was abased. Whereas Christ abased Himself, and He is exalted. It is not only that He appears, but He abases Himself. "He made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." Then there was a second step in this humiliation. "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." There is nothing so humble as obedience, because we have then no will of our own at all. Adam, besides setting up to be God, was disobedient unto death; whereas Christ, on the contrary, was obedient unto death, as a matter of sorrow and pain. He was "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

The thing that I find in Christ exactly opposed to the first Adam and to our flesh is that He humbled Himself - emptied Himself. First, He made Himself of no reputation, and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death. You see it is not merely bearing wrongs - this He did most really. But there is another thing here - perfect love. It was this that brought Him down. He came into the place of obedience, and it was through perfect love to others who wanted it. For love likes to serve; selfishness likes to be served, and thinks itself exalted when other people are waiting upon it. Love likes to serve; and that is what Christ always will do. He will never give it up. He served when He was down here upon the earth. "I am among you as he that serveth." Wretched hearts they had to enter into it! Knowing that He was come from God and went to God, He girds Himself, pours water into a basin and begins to wash the disciples' feet. This is what He is doing now; He is washing our feet; He is servant in that sense still. It is His glory really - the glory of His love towards us.

And when the time comes, it is the same thing. He tells them to be as men that wait for their Lord. "Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching; verily I say unto you that he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." The Lord thus presented Himself in this wonderful way as taking the form of a servant - His ear bored. It was not there His becoming a man; but when He had served the seven years perfectly, He says, I will not go out free. He remains a servant for ever. He might have had twelve legions of angels and gone out free; but that is not what He came for. He said, I will be a servant for ever.

218 That is the very thing which Christ all through His path has done. Leaving God in the glory, leaving the form of Godhead in abeyance, He became a servant for the blessing of others. We have got the blessing now and the glory; and the way you shew that, is by serving now in that spirit of love that thinks everyone better than oneself, and serves everybody. In the presence of Christ selfishness disappears, and blessed holy affections flow forth without difficulty. I am not thinking of myself. I see what is blessed and good in another, and this is the energy that overcomes all difficulties. Christ humbled Himself: God, therefore, has highly exalted Him, and "given him a name which is above every name," etc.

In verse 13, it is God working in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. We have by grace, God as the worker in us of this willing and doing. That is what is displayed in our life. It shewed itself in Christ by His coming down and humbling Himself, and now He says God is working in you the same mind, to will and to do of His good pleasure. You are to be blameless and harmless; that is what Christ was. You are actually manifested down here as Christ was. Did He not shine as the light? That is what you are. He was the word of life, and He was holding it forth; and He says, that is what you are to do too - "holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain." Just see how all these affections come out. "Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all." It was really manifesting Christ to them.

He was there a prisoner, perhaps going to be put to death; but "I joy and rejoice with you all." Your faith is what I look at as a precious sacrifice; you are going to be in glory with Christ: and if I am offered up, it is for that very reason; I am offered on your faith. The offering was their faith. He says, as it were, I throw myself in, that we may rejoice together. We are all going to heaven in company. He is looking at Christ having these saints, and he is helping them. "For the same cause [he adds] also do ye joy and rejoice with me." What! rejoice when he was going to be put to death! Looking at the blessedness in Christ, he rises above it all.

219 But we see the same affections coming out still. Even in common things, he cannot be happy till he knows their state. "But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort when I know your state." I cannot rest perfectly happy till I know that all is well with you all. "For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state." It is not that he could trust others for the same love, but it was in him. "For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's." But still he rests in Timothy. "But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he has served with me in the gospel." It is still the same blessed happy feeling. Timothy's affection, too, is brought out. Paul knew that the Philippians would care about him, so he says Timothy shall come and tell you.

"Yet I supposed it necessary to send unto you Epaphroditus, my brother and companion in labour, and fellow-soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants." Thus he links them all in one. "For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick." The Philippians had heard that he had been sick, and Epaphroditus felt they would be all miserable because of this. How he reckons upon their love! He was full of heaviness, not because of his own sickness, but because they had heard of it. It is the present flowing out of affection. "For indeed he was sick nigh unto death; but God had mercy on him: and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow." What a sorrow it would have been to me, if you had lost this blessed servant of Christ through serving me! "I sent him therefore the more carefully that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful." How all these gracious, blessed affections are drawn out where this mind of Christ is! Look at Christ Himself. "With desire," He says, "I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer." He was about to suffer; He was going to work the work of redemption. Still His soul was always bright instead of being oppressed. Even when He wanted for the last time to have the paschal supper with them. "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you." It was not to be again. Think of the amount of lowliness, as well as love, that comes out in this affection. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." It cannot be unless we are near to Christ, because the wretched flesh rises and is anxious about itself. But where the soul has, as the single thing before it, the desire to honour Christ, the life of Christ is set free in displaying Christ in the world; and then all these blessed affections are in full play. What do we learn in Christ? He was always going down. We are elevated because we are in Christ. But we are to have the same "mind"; and the way that this shews itself is in self-humbling and in obedience, This sets free all the Christian affections, because Christ has set me free from self.

220 May we so feed upon Him, and have Him for our object, and enter into His spirit, that we may have the mind of Christ, and shew Him forth in the world!