TAKING CHRIST AS THE PATTERN
By Lowering Our Position and Standard
Philippians 2 is the second section, showing us Christ as our pattern, our living example. The principle of this pattern is that someone with the highest life and position would be willing to live in a humble way. Christ has the highest life, the life of God, and He has the highest position, which is equality with God, yet He would not grasp that. Rather, He temporarily set it aside (vv. 5-8). To have grasped His equality with God would not have been wrong. Although He had the human nature, it would have been right for Him to take the standing of God. However, He would not grasp that. He put aside His position of equality with God, and He lived in the most humble and lowly way. This is the principle of Christ as the pattern.
We all have to learn this. If today by the sovereignty of God we have a high position and much wealth, we have to lower ourselves. We must lower our position and standard in our living according to the example of Christ. It is not wrong to grasp our position and say that it is something that God has given us to enjoy, but if we do this, we are not taking Christ as our person and pattern. The pattern given to us by Christ is that one has a life in the highest position, yet he is willing to live a life in the lowliest way. We all must learn to lower our position and standard. We may be millionaires, but we should be willing to lower our standard of living and use our substance for the glory of God and the benefit of others. This is the example of Christ, and this is the principle of Christ as a pattern to us who take Him as our life.
If we say that we take Christ as our life and yet do not take Him as our pattern, there is something wrong. In the past I have seen a number of good brothers and sisters in high positions, such as bank managers and university professors, who did love the Lord. Yet to my realization, some of them were not willing to humble themselves and take a lower position. On the one hand, they have the right to enjoy their position; to grasp one’s position is not robbery. However, Christ for the glory of God and for our benefit emptied and humbled Himself to live not as God but as a slave. He truly had the position of God, being equal with God, yet He humbled Himself to live as a slave.
Some brothers and sisters are rich only for themselves. When they enjoy their own riches, they are generous to themselves, but in giving their riches to others they are not generous. Their way of living is to spend their wealth and their riches for their own enjoyment. They are not willing to give their wealth for God’s glory and work. No one can condemn them, because according to their position it is legal and right to do this. However, if they mean business to take Christ as their life and pattern, they should lower their standard in the way they spend for their living.
The principle of Christ as the pattern for our living is that even if we have the highest standard, the highest position, we should not grasp it. We should put that aside and lower our standard. As long as we can live on the earth, that is good enough. We should save the rest of what we have for the glory of God and the benefit of others. If we would not do this, if we would keep our standard and grasp our position, we will waste what God has given us.
Verse 17 says, “But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice, and I rejoice together with you all.” This person, who took Christ as his pattern, offered everything on the altar. This verse says that Paul himself was being poured out. To be poured out is to lower one’s standard and position in his living.
(General Sketch of the New Testament in the Light of Christ and the Church, A - Part 2: Romans through Philemon, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)