Paul was a model Jew. His pedigree is without fault. As far as the Jew would have been concerned, Paul was a perfect model. A Jew would have given almost anything to be in the shoes of Paul! Why does Paul present his credentials to the Philippians? He presents them to compare his former seemingly perfect position with his present position. In the few verses following this text Paul will tell the Philippians that even though all that he has just recounted might seem good, there is something INFINITELY greater offered to them through the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Paul uses a very old tool to let his listeners (readers) think they know what he is going to say next and then he surprises them with something almost directly opposite to that which is expected. This gives added effect to his argument. Paul is utterly convinced that the power of the resurrection of Jesus, which is offered to us in Baptism, is far greater than we could ever imagine. All we need to do is to choose to recognise Jesus as both Saviour and Lord of our lives.

This is precisely where nearly all of us have a few problems. As Paul admits, he originally thought that he could earn his own salvation by living the right sort of life. It is only when we are able to accept the truth that we cannot earn salvation; that it is a gift to us from God that we can begin to walk the journey that Paul is recounting to the Philippians. Humility is a key. Some of the saints teach us that humility is the ‘substance’ or ‘means’ by which all of the virtues are related. Since the virtues are fundamentally the work and action of God in our lives, with which we are co-operating, humility or surrender to the Holy Spirit is essential before God can bring about in us the transformation that He desires.

Humility is a key aspect in the life of Christ. Think of the incarnation in terms of God Almighty choosing to become a weak and insignificant human being! Jesus did not allow His divinity to interfere with the will of His Father. Likewise, we will constantly finding ourselves having to decide to let go of our pride in our own achievements and learn how to rely upon God for everything as we seek to grow in holiness. This may be difficult, but it is not impossible! When we are struggling with this decision, let us seek the help of the Holy Spirit to grow in our trust in God.

How self-reliant am I as a person? Am I willing to let God be the Lord of my life?

Lord Jesus, send me the Holy Spirit at the beginning of each day to help me surrender my life into your hands. Help me to let go of the need to do things in my own strength and to learn that there is absolutely no shame in being dependant upon you for all things. I commit myself to do the best I can and pray that you will make up for whatever is lacking.