This is the final post in this series. We have been looking at the implications of Philippians 1:27-2:5 for family living. This is an important passage for establishing guidelines for relationships in the church. As we have seen, this passage also has much to say about your family. Paul begins this section with these words in verse 27: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Then, in chapter 2:5, Paul, in effect, summarizes what he has just said a with this statement: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus….” Paul’s admonition is to conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel by having your attitude be the same as that of Christ Jesus. This challenge is given to the church, and thus to the parents in the church as well.
The phrase being Christ-like is often used without much added in the way of specifics. That is not the case in this passage. For example, the call to consider others more important than ourselves is essential and humbling. How many disputes would be avoided if this were a compelling motivation for both parents and children?
Paul’s statement that your attitude must be the same as Christ’s should drive you to your knees in humility. Christ came not to be served, but to serve. This admonition is to be both caught and taught. Before you can teach this truth to your children it must become deeply rooted in your own heart. This is one of those truths that Deuteronomy 6:6-7 teaches should be on your heart and then impressed upon the hearts of your children.
Father’s Day is this Sunday. and there is a special note here for fathers. Fathers, it is your responsibility to lead your family toward Christ. In particular, this means that you are the one to lead the way in considering others more important than yourself. This is trickle-down methodology, not trickle- up. It is all too easy to have an attitude that says I’ll give respect when respect is given to me. That is not the attitude of Christ.
The first person that a father must consider to be of greater importance than himself is, of course, his wife. The true test of whether this objective is being met is to ask your wife. Does she think that you consider her more important than you, judging by the way your treat her and speak to her? Then, the same test holds true for each of your children. If you are at all like me, the temperature in the room is rising and starting to get a little uncomfortable. This discomfort is coming from the powerful work of the Holy Spirit working through his Word. As fathers, we tend to focus on how we are made to feel important, rather than focusing on the importance of how we treat others. This is hardly having the same attitude as Christ.
Before someone protests that my wife and my kids are really tough to live with – you are asking a lot to tell me to consider them of greater importance – allow me to ask one question. Since you are to follow the example of Christ, how responsive have you been to him? Have you treated Christ as if he were more important than you are? Christ cares for you in spite of your treatment of him, so you should be able to care for your wife and children by having the same attitude toward them that Christ has toward you. It is easy to forget how unfaithful we are to God. Fathers can easily demand respect and then feel hurt when respect appears to be absent. But suppose God were to treat you on the basis of how you honored him? Is that a pleasant thought? Fathers, God wants you to illustrate the gospel of Christ to your wife and to your children. You are not free to use your perception of their behavior as the basis upon which you respond to them. This passage in Philippians calls you to show the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ to your family.
Fathers, give your family a gift this Father’s Day. Give them the attitude that was in Christ Jesus!