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Descending Into Humility

By Pastor Marcus Brown

Table of Contents

If you’ve got your Bible, go to chapter two of Philippians. Last week, we started Philippians. It’s all about joy. Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is conditional to your circumstances, but joy comes from heaven. The Bible even describes it as the oil of joy. Paul writes this book talking about the joy that he wants you to live your life with, that you have joy, and it does some things for you. It changes the way you lead your home. It changes who you are as a man, a woman, a husband, a father, and a student. It changes you, and you need joy that will give you strength. You need joy to do the call of God that He’s given you in your life.


Paul wrote this book from prison, 16 times from a dungeon, chained to a man. And he’s “I think I’m gonna write a book about joy.” That’s what the Lord’s telling him to do. And isn’t it convicting that he writes about joy under those circumstances? Because what’s going to happen to you this summer?


You’re going to be on vacation. And you’re going to be on a lake somewhere. Or a beach somewhere. And you’re going to lose your joy. Then you’re going to remember that Paul kept his joy in prison. And you’re going to remember today’s sermon. And shame is going to cover you. And you deserve it. I’m just kidding.


But Paul is going to show us how to really walk in joy. It looks like an immeasurable, like a fantasy. Does everything need to go my way so I can have this joy? He’s going to show you how to do it. But a key verse is Philippians 2:12. It says 


“continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose in your life. 


In other words, God is working some things in you today. Your responsibility is to work out what God has been working on. You have to say, “I have got to take ownership of this.”


Saying “Amen” is not just you taking ownership. Saying “Amen,” like any time a preacher’s preaching and you go, “Oh, that’s good,” what’s happening is that God’s working some things in you. That’s not you working it out. That’s not your finish line. That’s your beginning point, your starting position, “Oh, that’s good.”


If you don’t look at it “That’s what I need to apply,” guess what? You’re gonna be an emotional believer, up and down. You’re not going to grow into maturity. Here’s my problem with Philippians: It’s so good to read!


I’m “That is so good!” There are 30 verses in the book of Philippians that you should memorize. That verse, you know, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me…” what? Strength! The working end is like eating a blizzard from DQ country. Woo! So good! The working out is, how do I apply that: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength?”


He’s going to give you contentment in really bad circumstances, so you can suck it up in life. I don’t like that as much. The working it in is like eating a blizzard. The working it out is like eating kale. All right, so it’s like the working out takes me taking ownership and the Holy Spirit helping me in my life.


But I’m going to tell you about Philippians 2. I’m going to give you a guarantee. If you apply this, the Holy Spirit will help you, and it can change your life for the rest of your life. I’m going to give you a guarantee for it, and I’ll give you a guarantee for your family. 


And we will walk in joy if we get this one. If you don’t, you’re just going to be the same as you are today. But if this is a radical chapter in the Bible and God is asking us to imitate Christ, here’s the boring word: humility. Like God is saying, “You want to have joy? Then let me tell you something. You’re going to have to walk in humility.” 


I’ll think, “That sounds boring.” Well, what does it mean? He says, “If you imitate Jesus in about four areas of your life, you’re gonna have strength, find joy, and be able to apply truth in your home and in your community.”


Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ…


Look at this. Now, watch what he’s about to do. He’s about to rattle some things off. Okay, let me tell you what Paul is doing in the first verse. All right, you have to catch this. He’s going to tell you some hard things.


This is sneaky of the Holy Spirit. He is going to tell you some hard things. He’s putting a “yes” in your spirit before He tells you a hard thing. This is great. He goes, “Watch this. He goes: 


Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ and any comfort from his love,


So people are do I have any encouragement from being saved? Yeah, I like that. Do I have any comfort from his love? Yeah, he’s comforted me with his love before. Underline this in your Bible: “Comfort from his love.”


It’s one Greek word. This is the only time it’s used in the Bible. And it means that he whispered cheer in your ear. He just said, “You’re doing awesome, you’re doing great, I’m so for you, just keep on going.” If you’ve ever had that whisper, you’ve had the comfort of a whisper of the love of God.


If any calm and sharing in the spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, if anything good’s ever happened to you. It would be like if I came over here and I went, “Is your name Brooke?” Yes. “Are you the wife of a very handsome man?” Yes (right?). “Are you the mother of three kids that are gonna do great in life?”


Yes. “Are you sitting in the front row?” Yes! “Alright, because of those four things, let me tell you some things you need to do.” And this is what He says, “, 


Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, one spirit, and one mind. 


He says, “I want you to have unity and harmony on four levels because if you can have unity and harmony in four levels, that gives birth to supernatural joy in your life.” 


Those four levels, when I look at them, I’m that just seems like it’s impossible. But this is what we know in life, the biggest killer of joy is conflict. I can be having a great day, and Brooke and I have a bad argument, and my joy is gone. 


She sucked it right out of my life, right? And I sucked it right out of her life. Like, you’re gonna be going, great, your boss calls you, one conversation, you’re just why is it that conflict just changes our emotions? 


Paul is in the middle of conflict, and his emotions haven’t changed because he’s learned how to have unity, and this is what the Lord is saying.


I want you to tell the church to strive for this. I’m going to help them in four areas of their life because the path to joy is through humility. If we polled and said, “What’s the path to joy?” My definition is American. It’s “Get a good education. Get a good job. Have a great hobby. Have family that loves you. Make a lot of money. Retire. Get an RV. Play shuffleboard, pickleball, whatever.”


I know people who have all those things, and they’re miserable. You know people who have all those things, and they’re miserable, too. You’re miserable if you’re in the middle of conflict. You look at the most miserable people in our country. They’re in Hollywood, and it looks like they have everything.


They have fame, they have money, they have physical beauty, and they don’t have an ounce of joy. And their kids are full of confusion, depression, and anxiety. And you’re how can this be? Proverbs 13:10 says, “Pride always leads to arguments.” And when I first got married, I would say, “No, stupidity! That’s what leads to arguments!” 


God goes, “No, there’s pride somewhere in the middle of conflict.” When you’re having conflict over and over, then he says, “There’s pride somewhere.” 


So you back up and look at verse 2, and he’s telling you what he is looking for: Be like-minded, the same love, man, one in spirit and in one mind.


He’s telling you, “Here are four areas where I want you to have unity.”


  1. Mental Harmony. 


We think the same way. It’s not uniformity. It’s unity. That means that we’re not off-page in our marriage. We’re on the same page with our wife and kids. We see life the same way, and we have the same value systems, convictions, viewpoints, and mental harmony.


Then he says, “I want you to have the same type of love.” What is that? Write it down. 


Emotional Harmony. 


It’s not like I walk in love, and you walk in hate. Or, I walk in joy, and you’re sour all the time. Some homes and some churches are emotionally all over the place. He says, “I want people to walk in the same love that God has given them in their hearts.” They’re filled with God’s love and are pouring it out.


It’s getting quiet. Spiritual harmony. The same spirit. My drive and my aim are to be close to Jesus, and your drive and your aim are to be close to Jesus. Do you know when homes get hard? It’s when there’s spiritual incompatibility all over the place. One spouse is trying to live for God, and the other one doesn’t care about God.


Finally, I got that spouse trying to live for God. Then, our kid ran off and rebelled against God. And when there’s spiritual incompatibility, there’s friction everywhere. Paul’s “Can you get this vision for your home?” Because you can have this in unity, we have a hunger for the things of God. We want to glorify God with our lives.


He says, “You can have this.” Then he says of one mind. He says it again, but this is what it means here: Directional harmony. We’re going in the same direction with our lives. We’re not two ships passing in the night, and you’re building your life this way, and I’m building my life this way. No, we know what God has called us to do.


And we’re in lockstep doing the will of God together. If you get this down, your life will be filled with joy so much it overflows. It’s a tall order, but Paul spends the rest of the chapter telling you how to do it. 


I’m going to give you a few ways to imitate Jesus because His humility brought these four things to earth. And if you can imitate Christ, you can have it.


  1. Never again let pride be your guide. 


Friday we had to go to Dover for a baseball game. We jump in the truck. I’m the man…driving the truck. I know how to get to Dover. I’ve been to Dover a bunch. You drive to Dover, you go to exit 64, you get off the interstate, and there’s a subway on your right, and there’s a Dairy Queen two miles down on your left.


But that’s every little small town in Arkansas, isn’t it? You get off, and they have a subway here and a DQ there, and I’m just hammered down. I didn’t need Siri, and I don’t need her. I know where I’m going…but I didn’t. We got to exit 64. It said Lamar, Arkansas. And I said, “Oh! Babe, I am so sorry. They have moved Dover!”


I never think I’m wrong. Where are we at? She said, “You were supposed to exit 24 miles ago.” So we turned around. Then, you go from pride to humility. I go, “Siri, can you save my marriage? Now, Siri!” 


So we turned around. We got back on the interstate, got back to Russellville, and headed north on Highway 7. There is a subway on the right, and there is a Sonic on the left.


Every time in Arkansas, okay? We get out of the vehicle, pay our money, walk up to the gate, and they are shaking hands. The ball game is over. How could this be worse? So I told Austin what happened. We didn’t even see one pitch of the game! He said, “It’s okay.” So he’s got my personality.


He walked up to his mom and said, “I’m riding the bus home. I don’t need you guys.” So praise God, icing on the cake. You can see this in a million things in life. Let me get honest with you. I’ve hurt my family through my pride. I’ve hurt us with decisions I’ve made, spending decisions, moving decisions. I’ve hurt my family with my pride, and the times that I help my family the most are when I’m humble enough to seek the face of  God. The biggest mistakes David made, and actually the only mistakes that David made in the Old Testament, were the times when he did not inquire of the Lord, and every time he did not inquire of the Lord, he was allowing pride to be his guide. So let’s read this Philippians 2:3.


Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or vain conceit. Instead, be humble, and give more honor to others than to yourself. 


“Selfish ambition” means it’s all about me. “Vain conceit” means I’m always right. Isn’t that tough?


Do you know anybody like that? Is their conversation all about them? And then on every subject known to man, they have the right perspective? That is selfish ambition. I gotta get my own way, and I’m fighting for my own way. Vain conceit is that I’m right about everything. I’m right about politics, I’m right about the Bible, I’m right about my career, I’m always right.


Those two things are what pride is. I’ve got to get my own way. That’s what I’m seeking. I’ve got to be right. That’s what I’m seeking. When you are eaten up with selfish ambition and vain conceit, it’s because you feel like you have a glory deficit in your soul. You have a glory deficit on the inside, and you need to get glory from other people.


And the only way I can get glory is to have my own way and then make you know how smart I am. There are two figures in the Bible that dealt with glory. One is Jesus, and one is Satan. And Jesus emptied himself of glory and went to a manger. Satan said, I want more glory and tried to take the throne away from God and got kicked out of heaven in about 0.1 seconds. 


In life, when it comes to pride and humility, you only have two characters. You are either leaning into how Satan lived his life, or you’re leaning into how Jesus ruled his. I’m either seeking more glory, or I’m emptying my life of it as a humble servant. One of the pastors connected to our church was doing a Serve Day, like we do around New Life Church, and Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, showed up and so he got next to the pastor, and they just went around from serve site to serve site all day. They went to one place, and they served, and he was getting his hands dirty and just helping. He was riding around. And there’s Dan Cathy. He’s worth 11 billion dollars. He’s weed-eating, cutting grass, and taking the trash out. So when they get done, Dan turns and says, “I’m hungry. Let’s just pick up something quick.” Well, it was after nine o’clock, and every Chick-fil-A was closed. So he says, “Dan, I’m sorry. We’re gonna have to go to Taco Bell and grab a chalupa.”


So they pull into Taco Bell. And then Dan says, “I gotta wash up,” so they go to the bathroom just to wash their hands. And the bathroom looked like a bomb went off in it. It was filthy. And he thought, “Oh, this is gonna offend Dan.” But then Dan went in and pulled paper towel after paper towel out of the dispenser and cleaned the bathroom. 

He wiped the water off the sink and wiped the sink down. He started wiping the floors down and cleaned two of their toilets. He threw the trash out, took the trash out of the trash can, and said, “I’ll be in. I’m gonna take the trash to the dumpster for him.” And he said, “I’m sitting there thinking, the CEO of Chick-fil-A just cleaned the Taco Bell bathroom.” 


You know what that is? Insanity. No, you know what that really is? That’s a servant’s heart. Don’t do anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. And I love how he says, don’t do anything. Not one single thing in my life. I would like it if God just said, just don’t do most things. Just have a good average.


Just about most of your life can’t be about you, but a little bit. God goes, no, no, no, if you’re going to have harmony in those four areas and you look at your home and you look at your life and you look at the church and the areas you serve in, he says, don’t you do one single thing driven by I need my way, and I need to be right, right now. 


James said it this way: Whenever there is jealousy or selfish ambition, you’ll find confusion and every other kind of evil. Why? Let’s go back to Jesus or satan. Satan was full of selfish ambition for more glory, and every kind of evil and confusion came out of that. 


  1. Focus on others.


Our nation is experiencing an attention deficit right now.


Like we, like it used to be just something, say, Ah, you know, I got a little ADD, I’m a little ADHD. But we, because of this cell phone, guys, we have a problem focusing on everything. Did you know that pedestrians being hit and killed by a car is up 16 times? I didn’t say 16%. Since 2001, it’s up 1600%, and not because people are getting dumber, right?


I didn’t know people were looking at their phones and getting hit. Why? We’re always focused on something else. Never let Pride be your guide. And think, “I’m going to focus on other people.” As a matter of fact, if you focus on yourself, you’re going to drive anxiety and depression up in your life. 


If you get your mind on yourself, you’ll start thinking about everything going wrong. I don’t know. How do I feel right now? I think I feel good, but in a few seconds, I might feel bad. I don’t know. You get your eyes on other people, and you forget about yourself. You’ll relax. Your emotions will relax. You’ll begin to step into joy. 


Philippians 2:4, this very next verse, says, “Don’t be interested only in your own life, but be interested in what others care about too.” 


We’re on the interstate going the wrong way. Brook and I are having a great conversation. She looked down at her phone and saw a spider that was almost a tarantula. He was hairy. She doesn’t really get scared of spiders. Alright, so she looks at her phone, and this huge hairy spider is on her phone, crawling to no man’s land over here.


And she goes, “Oh my gosh,” and I’m doing 84 miles an hour in the left-hand lane like a man. And she starts screaming. And then, I didn’t know if you know this, you can get out of that seatbelt without unlocking it. And, she somehow came out of that seatbelt! She’s on top of the seat, kicking and screaming and flicking.


The only thing I could think of in that moment was, “Dear Lord, don’t let that thing get on me.” Right? Don’t let it get on me. And I’m holding my composure. But when anything like this happens, you know what your brain says? It’s on you. I could feel things crawling on my legs. I’m there’s babies in here.


But I’m holding it together. And then we exit. When we exit, she jumps out of the vehicle, and I get out over here. And she says, could you check me? And I’m over there going, I’m checking myself first. You know? I’m going to save you. And so, I go over there, and nothing’s on there. I found the thing and brought it to justice.


But isn’t it true that it’s just our natural tendency to look out for number one? I’m going to look out for myself. And so, this is right where Philippians 2:5 says, 


Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. 


What is he telling us to do? Be imitators of Christ right here. To link up.


And then Paul writes this in verses 6-11. This is a song. We don’t know if Paul wrote it or if Paul was on his second missionary journey and went back to the church and the church was singing it.


That’s what I think happened. I think Paul heard this song and the Lord said, “I want it in the Bible because this song is Christmas and Easter and humility all in one.” And Paul sticks it right here. And I started thinking, I wish we could sing this song. Wouldn’t it be great, if Paul showed up, and they were singing, “Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage. Rather, he made himself nothing.” 


Isn’t that beautiful? Do you see the humility here? “He made himself nothing, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place.”


You see how humility always leads to exaltation from God? If you humble yourself, you don’t have to exalt yourself. Your Lord will lift you up! He gave him the name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in three areas: on heaven, on earth, and under the earth.


It’s powerful. And every tongue acknowledged that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. I was man, I wish we could sing this song. So Thursday evening, I called Sean. I said, Sean, can we sing this song? He’s I love the challenge. I’ll give it to my wife, Christy. She’s a music teacher at Little Rock Christian, and she put a song that she’s going to sing to us, to these words.


Then I’m going to come up and wrap up. Would you come up? Y’all give Christy Myers a hand. She don’t come. It’s beautiful. And she did it on short notice. Thursday evening. The Lord always works through me late. Praise God. 



who being in the form of God, 

did not think himself equal with God. 



made himself nothing, 

taking the form of God. 

Of a servant becoming like one of us. 

Being found in human form, 

He humbled himself in obedience 

To the point of death, 

Even death on a cross. 


Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus 

Therefore God highly exalted Him 

And gave Him the name above every name 

At the name of Jesus every knee 

will bow in heaven and earth and below.


And every tongue will confess

That Jesus Christ is Lord of all

To the glory of God.


Isn’t that beautiful?


Brooke and I were talking about how we grew up just singing the Word. We didn’t really sing about ourselves. The songs that were written in our times were just singing scripture. That’s how we learned scripture. I love that!


Let’s break this down.


What he’s saying. How do we imitate? Philippians 2:6-7. 


“Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God.”


Here are the principles. This is how you imitate it:


Stop demanding what you think you deserve. 


Stop demanding. Entitled people have no joy. Entitled kids can have everything and still be sour, and you will buy them something nicer. They’re still going to be sour because they’re entitled. Stop demanding what you think you deserve. There is a better way for you to get what you want than demanding your way. Jesus didn’t do that. He didn’t demand his rights.


Philippians 2:6-7. 


Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He emptied himself of all he had. 


Here’s the second thing to imitate in your life: 


Look for ways to serve. 


Jesus said this. 


The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve. 


“How can we get joy in our life?” Somebody’s got to walk into the home and start emptying themselves. And someone else needs to empty themselves. “We don’t have passion in our marriage anymore.” Then two people need to start serving each other, and passion will follow the serving. 


I remember when Brooke was having a rough day. I said, “You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to cook.” So I was cooking, and while I was cooking, I had another idea. I’m not going to just cook, I’m going to clean! That’s what I’m going to do. And then, while I was cleaning, I thought. I’m gonna sweep the floors! That’s a little far, but then I had that thought like I’m even gonna remove the chairs to sweep! That’s All In! 


A man’s way of sweeping is just swoosh swoosh swoosh and they walk out, but a lady takes the chairs out of the room and gets everything done!


I said I’m gonna move the chairs, and then I’m gonna sweep! And, I’m telling you, Brooke walked in, and JOY hit her heart! She said, “You moved the chairs!” And then she passed out, haha! 


But anyway, look for ways to serve. 


Third thing: 


while living as a man, Jesus humbled himself even more by being fully obedient to God, Even when that meant his death on a cross.


I’m going to explain this.


Take out the garbage. Somebody’s got to take out the garbage. There’s two perspectives that you can high center on in this passage and me being earthly. This is what I think. I think, goodness, Jesus humbled himself and he went from heaven to earth, this glorified being. To a human. 


He had the splendor of heaven and went to a stable with animals. I look at that from earth, and I think that has to be the hardest thing that Jesus ever did, right? He downsized. I mean, you love people, but ain’t nobody walking around going, “You know what? You know, I would trade in my truck for you.”


No, we downsizing. And I look at him and went, “Wow, he downsized all of heaven and came to earth.” But that wasn’t the thing that made heaven hush. The thing that made heaven hush was centered around sin. Because we don’t look at the gravity of sin the way God does. God looks at sin, and He goes, “That’s treason. That is totally against my nature. That is so repulsive. I turned my back on this. I distanced myself from this. I cursed this. 


What made heaven hush was Jesus’ willingness to go, “I will go from being sinless to sin stained for you.” And heaven went, “Oh.” and he took our sin and our punishment upon himself. 


He who knew no sin became sin for us. 


He took out the garbage, right? You go, well, I can’t beat Jesus. How do I take out the garbage like this? To tell you, Ainsley, our youngest. She has a highly sensitive nose. She’s had it since she was a baby. She could smell anything. So there was a lot of things she would never even try eating.


She even knew if we boiled eggs the day before. She’s always been that way. And because of that, she doesn’t mind messing with dishes, but the garbage is off-limits. I’m Ainsley, you got to take the garbage out. It’s you tonight. I can’t do it. 


It’s the odor. It’s so bad. One time I was, you gotta do it. This is gonna be character-building. It was one of those bags where it just drips stuff on her like the Lord would have it, you know. It’s just nasty. Take it out. In your relationships, it’s gonna get sin-stained. There are going to be people that are close to you, even living in your house, that are gonna make huge mistakes. 


And in that moment, you’re going to have to say, “How do I imitate Jesus in this?” Because that’s going to be your kids and your grandkids. It’s going to enter into your marriage. And many of you are in this room going, How do I fight? With Godliness, through this, I’m not going to turn a blind eye. How do I hold people accountable?


How do I call them to repentance? When do I give grace and mercy? How do we have unity? And just the fact that you would enter that struggle is honorable to God. That you just go, you don’t go, that stinks, I’m done with it. I’m just, I’m just done. You got sin in your life, I’m distancing myself from you.


But you look at Him and go, How, Jesus? How do we restore this, repair this? How are you glorified in this? And just the effort is a hint of what God did in our lives, isn’t it? I drew near. It’s a picture of Him leaving Heaven and saying, “I’m gonna get in that mess with you.” And all of your situations are going to have a different recipe for how that plays out.


But when you do this, this is what the Bible says in verse 15, then you will shine among them like stars. 


Why? You’re imitating Christ. Then all of a sudden you’re just shining. 


Who in here thought the eclipse was a bigger deal than you thought it was going to be? Raise your hand, all the honest people. Who were a little smart, who thought it was everything I thought it was going to be? Who’s napped through it? I met a couple of you, if you just slept, gotcha. I was a little cynical, but that’s just my personality.


So I was just, Oh, big deal. And then Brooke was, “well, you’re going to burn your retina.” And I was no, I’m going to be like moving like this. And she was, can’t catch up with me. And so finally Ainsley had those glasses, and I was watching it. We’d go back in, we were watching for that.


I’d never been through this total eclipse, but when that thing got total, you could look, and you’re just, wasn’t it amazing? Do you know the temperature here dropped 12 degrees like that? Oh, my. Our streetlights came on, you know, and pets and indoor pets were barking all over the neighborhood, you know, and we’re just up there looking.


Some people had their glasses on, but I’m from Louisiana. And I was just, that was amazing. But you know what? When a sliver broke through that darkness, it lit the whole world up again, and it didn’t take a ton. And Jesus said, when you imitate me like that, you can have 99 percent of darkness going on in your life, but that one sliver of light will light up everything.


You’re that far away from joy being restored to your home. 


Let me pray for you.


Father God, in the name of Jesus, we thank you for your word, that we build our lives upon it. But this word, being worked in, must get worked out. It’s gotta get applied in hard areas of our lives. Let us have the power, the power of the Holy Spirit, to activate it this week, in Jesus’ name.


If you’re in here and you’re I need more harmony in my life, could be in your workplace or your home, raise your hand. We got to have some harmony. Yep, I got you. Let me pray over that for you. Lord, in the name of Jesus, I pray that this will be a turn of events in marriages and relationships with kids.


We go. I got a recipe. I know how to imitate Jesus. I’m putting this as a practice in my home starting today. I pray you’ll bless it with joy unspeakable and full of glory. If you’re in here and you’re thinking, I’m the one who is sin-stained, and my relationship with Jesus needs to get right. I need to be innocent before God again. It’s time for me to surrender my life to him. And you know, that is why you’re here today. I want to pray for you. 


Pray this prayer after me: Jesus, I surrender my life to you and put my faith in you. Forgive me for all of the sins and mistakes I have made. Wash my heart clean again. I believe you died for me and rose again. Be the Lord of my life from this day on.


I have determined to follow you. Give me the strength to do so in Jesus’ name.

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