Philippians: Lowliness of Mind


Scripture verse: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”



  1. Students should memorize at least the first half of the verse.
  2. Students should understand that doing the right thing for the wrong reason is not God’s way.

Background on the book:

This letter was also written by St. Paul while he was a prisoner in Rome in AD 61-63.  The Church in Philippi had been founded by Paul around 50-51 AD during his visit on his 2nd missionary journey (Remember the jailer in the earthquake?); this was the first church on the continent of Europe! St. Luke, author of the gospel of Luke, was the priest of Philippi during its first 6 years. Paul had visited Philippi twice again during his 3rd missionary journey, AD 57-58. When the Philippians had heard that Paul was in prison, they sent Epaphroditus with a gift of money to make his stay more comfortable.  While in Rome, Epaphroditus almost died, but he was healed and returned to Philippi, taking Paul’s letter back with him.  In Philippi, many believers who had previously been too shy to speak were now preaching the Gospel boldly.  But others were preaching in order to make Paul look bad or to make a name for themselves.  While Paul is happy that the gospel is being preached, no matter by whom, he knows that the Lord sees into the heart of the believer and knows our motives.  God does not want us to be self-centered, but to serve him in humbleness. Find Philippi and Rome on a map – a short journey?


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


2.   Review the background of the book. Find the places on the map.


3.   Scripture lesson: Philippians 2:3. Read it aloud together and memorize it. Read also I John 1:5-7.


4.   Have you ever known anyone who did the right thing for the wrong reason?

      Look at the story of Pharoah and Moses; why did Pharoah let God’s people  go? Look again at Jonah: even after he obeyed God, he was upset at God. Why? (Jonah 4:1-4) Did Jonah really go to Ninevah with the Lord’s desire to save the  city, or to make himself look good?


5.   Have you ever done the right thing for the wrong reason? What is wrong with these situations?

You come to Church in your nicest clothes because you want everyone to see how good you look.

           You sing in the choir so everyone can hear your lovely voice.

You share a lot in Sunday School so everyone will know how smart you are.

You help at the soup kitchen so everyone will know what a good Christian you are.

You come to Church every Sunday so everyone will see how obedient you are.

You tell your friend about Jesus so you can bring him to Church next week and show everyone how much you love the Lord.

6. Try a light and darkness activity: Turn out the lights in the room and ask each student to assume a funny position. Do they feel silly in the dark? Now turn on the lights. Do they feel silly or embarrassed in the light? Remember that in Christ we walk in the light.


7. Play “Jonah May I” to review the story of Jonah. Students line up on one side of the room and the leader stands at the other. In turn, the leader gives the student a statement.  If it is true, the student asks, “Jonah, may I?” and the leader responds, “Yes, you may.” The student then takes one large step forward. If the statement is false, the student should say, “Jonah won’t”. But, if the student is wrong, he takes one large step backward.  The game ends when a player reaches the leader. Sample statements include:

                        Jonah was happy to go to Ninevah for the Lord. (False)

                        Jonah told the Lord he would go to Ninevah. (True)

                        Jonah was told by the Lord to go to Tarshish. (False)

                        Jonah set out with a camel caravan to Tarshish. (False)

                        Jonah was sad when the people of Ninevah repented (True)

                        Jonah took a boat to Tarshish. (True)

                        The boat had calm sailing all the way. (False)

                        The sailors knew that Jonah was the cause of the storm because they cast lots. (True)

                        Jonah drowned after the sailors threw him out of the boat. (False)

                        Jonah spent 3 days in the belly of a giant squid. (False)

                        Jonah was swallowed by a great fish. (True)

                        Jonah spent 6 weeks in the belly of the fish. (False)

                        Jonah was vomited out onto dry land. (True)

                        Jonah hated the people of Ninevah. (True)

                        God hated the people of Ninevah. (False)


8. Close with prayer.