Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead, He emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. Philippians 2:5-7
King Canute ruled over Denmark, Norway, and England more than one thousand years ago. A wise ruler, he worked diligently to make the lives of his subjects better. As is often the case, he was surrounded by those who sought to gain influence and prominence with him, and according to the ancient story, he grew tired of their continual flattery and determined to put an end to it. He ordered that his throne be carried out to the seashore and gathered his courtiers about it. By the sea, the king commanded the tide not to come in. Yet soon the waters were lapping around his legs as the tide did not heed him. According to one historian’s account, King Canute rose up from his throne and said, “Let all men know how empty and worthless the power of kings is, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and the sea obey by eternal laws.” (Source: A Primary History of Britain for Elementary Schools, William Smith)
Most Christians seldom ask God to empty them because they are so busy asking to be filled up with the fullness of God. Each day, I ask God to fill me up with His Spirit, wisdom, power, knowledge, and discernment. I rarely ask Him to empty me, though I know I often need a spiritual tune-up. My desire is for God to remove my weaknesses so I can operate in His divine strength. But for that to occur, God must empty me first.
There are two aspects of spiritual emptiness. One is the result of spiritual apathy. When we lose our spiritual passion for God, we become indifferent to His Spirit and experience the emptiness of our souls. Evidence of such emptiness can be a loss of interest in attending church services or in doing the work of ministry. This emptiness is sin-generated and is toxic to our souls.
The second aspect of spiritual emptiness comes out of a desire to be rededicated to the service of ministry. It is tantamount to a spiritual tune-up, if you will, so we can be more aligned with the will of God. This second type of spiritual emptiness requires divine pruning. It is when we ask God to search us and remove anything in us that is not pleasing to Him.
When we invite God to empty us, He may take away people, desires, thoughts, and things we may not be ready to let go of. During that emptiness process, our hunger for God increases and our thirst for His Holy Spirit becomes unquenchable. God humbles those He empties. It is part of the perfecting of our souls so we can be consecrated for His kingdom work.
In today’s text, Paul encourages the Philippians to adopt the same attitude as that of Jesus Christ, who emptied Himself so He can save humanity. Most of us want to be recognized and celebrated for our accomplishments. Our ego needs to be fed a constant diet of accolades so we can feel validated. Jesus did not need to take on the form of humanity. Yet He allowed Himself to be born in a manger and died on a rugged cross. He endured criticism, persecution, physical beatings, and death, though He had the power to destroy those who made Him suffer.
Most believers have things in them God must remove so they can draw closer to Him. In most cases, God cannot greatly use us until He empties us. That emptiness may result in the loss of a coveted position. Our affluence may diminish during that process of spiritual emptiness. However, our spiritual influence will increase. God will replenish with His fullness those He empties. So, if you are so busy with life and have no time for God, it may be time to ask the Lord to empty you. If you have fame and fortune but are still not fulfilled, you may need spiritual emptiness.
Questions for Personal Reflection
What does spiritual emptiness look like in your life?
What are the benefits of being emptied by God?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, please search my heart, mind, body, and soul and if you see anything that is sinful and stifling the presence of your Spirit in me, please remove it. Empty me of my sinful pride, ego, selfishness, jealousy, and desire to be celebrated. After you’ve emptied me, please help me to adopt the same attitude as Christ Jesus so I can walk humbly before your presence.