So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.)
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. (Philippians 2:1–4 (5–13) 14–18)
“Love your neighbor as yourself” is the second great commandment of the Law. It comprises the whole second table of the Law. We are to have faith toward God, and we are to have works of love toward neighbor. Our neighbor doesn’t need our faith, nor does God need our works love. We are to dwell with one another: not grumbling or complaining about one another, not being children of darkness but being children of light even as we are sons of the Father of lights, not being selfish, or conceited. As Christians we don’t look to our own interests at all, but only to the interests of others. There’s no me first, you second in the Christian church. We love our neighbor’s as ourselves. We’ve never cut in line, we’ve never put ourselves first, we’ve never grumbled or complained about anyone or anything. We don’t play king of the hill at all. We actually rejoice when our neighbor does something better than us, has something better than us, is of a higher station than us. We let ourselves be poured out like a drink. We empty of ourselves so that our neighbor may be full. There’s no thought of: “When’s it gonna be my turn.” As Christian we “love our neighbors as ourselves” all the time—there’s no need for us to rethink, repent, or give it a second thought, right?
Well, this is why we have Jesus, and “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Jesus poured Himself out for us. He was the one who had perfect love for His neighbor—you and me. He poured out His blood for us on the cross, and because He did this “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Jesus was raised from the dead to bring life and immortality to light. He paid the price for sin, and won for us life everlasting. He truly is the King of kings and Lord of lords, and we know this because He’s died and risen. One day all will see it with us. We saints in joy shall see the Lamb who was slain, His wounds will be eternal joy for us, but “those who set at naught and sold Him, who pierced and nailed Him to the tree,” who rejected Him and His salvation, “deeply wailing, shall their true Messiah see.”
In our life now it must be as an old hymn puts it: “Delay not, delay not! The Spirit of Grace, Long grieved and resisted, may take His sad flight And leave thee in darkness to finish thy race, To sink in the gloom of eternity’s night.” This is what Paul means when He says, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Let’s not spurn the Holy Spirit. Jesus has saved us from sin, death, and the devil. He then delivers that salvation to us all our lives. He washed us. He bolsters us with the Spirit with His Word, and He strengthens our faith toward God and our fervent love toward one another with His body and blood given in the bread and wine of the Supper. Let’s not dismiss God’s working in us, but receive His gifts with joy, knowing that through them He’s working in us “to will and to do according to His good pleasure,” and one day we will have endless joy and offer endless exultation to the triune God who’s ransomed us forever. INI + AMEN.
Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending (LSB 336)
Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus (LSB 531)
O Lord, we implore You, let Your continual pity cleanse and defend Your Church; and because she cannot continue in safety without Your aid, preserve her evermore by Your help and goodness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. AMEN.