If I could diagnose my children’s #1 character defect, I think it would probably be selfishness. Come to think of it, that’s probably my greatest character defect.
This isn’t all that surprising, is it? If God’s greatest commandments are to love Him with my whole being and to love my neighbor as myself (Mark 12:29-31)—and if love means joyfully serving others for their good, not expecting anything in return—then selfishness might rank among the greatest of sins.
It’s one thing to acknowledge that our kids are selfish, and its another thing to know what to do about that.
It is because of this pressing sin—in myself and my children—that I challenged my family to memorize and study Philippians 2:1-18.
3 Reasons to Memorize Philippians 2:1-18
1. If you’re looking for a concise passage that marries central Christian beliefs to important Christian ethics, Philippians 2 nails it. Bible scholar D.A. Carson says, “Few passages have as much theology and ethics in them as Philippians 2.” It is hard to find a more compact section of Scripture that equips kids with both orthodox beliefs and foundational moral lessons at the same time.
2. This passage teaches one of the central pillars of Christian character: humility. Learning what it means to overcome selfishness and esteem others more important that yourself is a lifelong process. These 18 verses pack in more than a dozen motivations for why we should pursue a life of humility. As parents we can easily dissect a passage like this and help kids understand not just that they should be servants to others, but also teach them why.
3. The passage contains one of the most pointed and rich accounts of Jesus’ humility, incarnation, death, and exaltation. The best place for our children to learn how to be humble and put others first—the best place for us to learn as well—is at the foot of the cross. In this passage Paul quotes (or possibly composes) a hymn about Christ. It is perhaps the earliest known Christian hymn, filled with profound theology about Christ’s incarnation and death. The hymn not only exalts Christ as our chief example of humility but also as the one we honor above all others.
For some, 18 verses might sound like a lot, but it takes less than two minutes to read aloud.
Family Bible Study on Philippians 2:1-18
Philippians 2 is a great passage for families to study together. This was my primary motivation for writing The Heart of Humility: Teaching Your Kids to Put Others First.
I found that, while our kids memorized this text, it raised a lot of questions for them.
- What does “selfish ambition” mean?
- What does it mean that Christ was “in the form of God”?
- What does it mean that we should work out our salvation with fear and trembling?
- How do we really be humble like Christ was?
Use Handwriting Worksheets to Help!
My wife made a handwriting workbook for our oldest son to go hand-in-hand with our memory of Philippians 2. Each school day he wrote part of Philippians 2, which reinforced what we were learning during Bible memory time.
We decided to make this workbook available in our store a few months ago and it has been downloaded thousands of times since. It is great to see so many families interested in Bible memory! You can get this Bible copywork workbook in either ESV or KJV.