STUDY | Spend the week studying Philippians 2:1-11. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Many questions have been included in this guide. Read through this lesson to determine which questions will work best to encourage, push, and grow your group.
PRAY | As you prepare, pray for the preaching of God’s Word this coming weekend. Pray also for your time in this week’s study and your group’s openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | Instead of pride, Jesus chose humility and obedience to the Father.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
Last time your group took an honest look at marriage and how to find joy and growth in relationships, even when they’re difficult. This week you will focus on pride and how it can affect nearly every aspect of your life. Like termites, pride can get into the house of your life unnoticed and cause serious damage. The best way to deal with pride is to follow Jesus’ example of humility and obedience.
Q: In your own words, define pride. How do you recognize when you are acting out of pride?
Q: Describe the last time you saw someone act prideful. What happened? How did they make you feel?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
In Philippians 2:1-11, Paul encourages believers to be united in love and service. He tells them, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (v.4). In order to make this point clear, Paul gives us the ultimate example of humility: Jesus Christ. Although Jesus was the Son of God, He chose to become one of us. He “emptied Himself” (v.7) and became a servant to the Father’s mission. That mission took Jesus to the cross, where He remained obedient “to the point of death” (v.8). Jesus’ life was the antithesis of pride, because He lived to please the Father and serve others. That’s why Jesus said, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).
READ: Read Philippians 2:1-11. What stands out to you in this passage? Why?
Q: When was the last time you felt humbled? What happened?
FROM HUMILIATION TO EXALTATION
Paul goes on to say that Jesus’ humility led to His exaltation. Because Jesus humbled Himself in obedience, the Father exalted Him with “a name that is above every name” (v.9). Jesus understood that in God’s kingdom, the way up is down and humility is the path to a truly great life. It’s important to note that even in His exaltation, Jesus continues to serve. The King of kings still humbles Himself to serve the needs of others!
Q: Explain the following statement in your own words: “Jesus understood that in God’s kingdom, the way up is down.”
Q: Think of someone you know who lives out a wonderful example of Christ’s humility. What are they like?
Select 2-3 question from this section to answer.
WHAT IS PRIDE?
To keep his readers from being prideful, Paul gives them a portrait of humility in Jesus. We see this clearly displayed in how Jesus obeyed the Father and went all the way to the cross in obedience. But what is the portrait of pride? What does it look like?
The kind of pride we’re talking about isn’t healthy self-esteem or feeling good about your accomplishments at work or your kid’s latest report card. The kind of pride we’re referring to is an inflated ego and arrogance that makes you feel as though you are above others. It’s a way of looking at the world as if it revolves around you and your needs.
The truth is, pride influences each of us, regardless of spiritual maturity. It’s the sin behind all other sins. Think about it. What led Adam and Eve to sin in the garden? Was it not pride and the desire to be like God? Adam and Eve craved an elevated status and allowed their egos to lead their choices, and they’ve passed that habit onto us. In fact, the term “ego” could easily be defined as Edging God Out.
Q: How can pride be considered “the sin behind all other sins”? What impact does pride have on our actions and decisions?
Q: In what ways has your ego “Edged God Out” in your life?
PRIDE SAYS, JESUS SAYS
Paul instructs us by contrasting pride and humility. Our pride says one thing while Jesus says another.
- I don’t have time or room for God in my life.
- I don’t need to apologize for anything. It’s someone else’s fault.
- It’s all about me.
- I don’t need help.
- I don’t need to change.
But Jesus says:
- I came to show you that you need God in your life.
- You’re not innocent. No one is. That’s why I came to save you.
- It’s all about the Father.
- You need my help.
- I want to make you more like me.
If you can identify pride in your heart, you’ve taken the first step toward dealing with it. Now that you’ve exposed it, you’re able to do something about it.
Q: What’s one way to identify pride in your life?
Q: What holds us back from dealing with our pride? In other words, what keeps us in denial?
Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.
TAKE AN HONEST LOOK
Each of us needs to take an honest look at our heart. Where do you see pride influencing your thoughts or behaviors? Where is pride trying to hide in your daily life? Do you talk yourself up in group settings or tell stories in a way that makes you look better? Do you look down on others or find yourself feeling good when others fail? Pride takes on many deceptive forms, but God has given us His Spirit, which enables us to see pride and address it head on.
Q: In what areas of your life do you see pride creeping in? What can you do to begin dealing with it?
It’s time to take a sledgehammer to pride. That sledgehammer is the power of the Spirit and the example of Jesus Christ. God wants to help you demolish pride in your life. When we live like Jesus and follow the Spirit’s leading, pride cannot hide. God will expose pride, and we will see more clearly the way to a great life. A great life isn’t lived in the prison of pride, but in the house of humility.
Q: In your own words, describe what it’s like living in the prison of pride versus living in the house of humility.
Ask God to reveal areas where pride is hiding in your life. Be honest, and listen for the Spirit to reveal any area you’ve missed or ignored. Then, take the next step and do something about pride. Picture a sledgehammer. Where is God aiming it? Pray to have the same mind as Jesus and the humility to serve the needs of others above yourself. Pray for unity as a group to help one another in this fight.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
Read John 13:1-20 and consider how Jesus demonstrates humility in this story.
Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their life.
The Goal: Unity
Paul didn’t write Philippians 2:1-11 as simply a theological treatise. He meant for it to be practical in the life of his readers. He wanted them to be united in mind, love, humility and service. This unity would be the thing that set them apart as a community. This echoes Jesus’ words to His disciples in the Upper Room: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). When Christians are united, it speaks volumes to nonbelievers. Pride causes division, but humility points others to Gospel love.
The Form of God
Before His incarnation, Jesus existed in the form of God. In Philippians 2:6, “form” refers to the fact that Jesus possessed all the characteristics of God. Jesus is and will always be God. In Jesus, we see the glory of God (Col. 1:15-20). That is, He makes known to us what God is like. Despite the fact that He was God, Jesus chose to humble Himself and become a man. He chose the path of service for the benefit of others: “For Christ did not please himself” (Rom. 15:3). 1
Looking in the Mirror
Author and pastor Paul Tripp speaks about the transforming power of God’s Word to destroy pride when he writes:
Do you examine your character daily by humbly placing your heart before the one mirror you can trust, the mirror of the Word of God? Or have you fallen into the habit of looking into the distorted mirrors of knowledge, experience, success and recognition?
I understand why it’s tempting to run to these mirrors instead of to Scripture. These mirrors will give you a partisan view of your character and a false sense of approval, while Scripture will expose your weaknesses, flaws and failures. But remember this – the Cross of Christ liberates you from fear of that exposure, because the grace of the Cross has made provision for everything the Bible reveals about you.2
God’s Word gives us the truth about ourselves. Rather than puff us up or stroke our ego, it shows us for who we really are: sinners in need of grace and humility.
- Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2283.
- Paul Tripp, “More Highly Than You Ought,” Paul Tripp Ministries, Inc., February 3, 2015, accessed May 24, 2017, https://www.paultripp.com/arti- cles/posts/more-highly-than-you-ought.