I have read this passage many times, and it has been a constant source of encouragement or correction to me. But as I studied it, yet again, this afternoon, I was impacted by the phrase, “taking the very nature of a servant.” I think there is a difference between taking the form of a servant and taking the nature of a servant.
It is possible for me to assume the form of a servant, while in my heart, in my nature, I am holding on to my ego. I must consider what it means to take on “the very nature” of a servant. It requires a fundamental change in my essence, not just in my actions. The Greek here is Morphene Doulou. It is translated in other places as “form.” Wuest says, “The Greek word for ‘form’ refers to that outward expression which a person gives to his inmost nature.” Wuest explains that it “proceeds directly from within.”
Marvin Vincent says that it “was a complete and characteristic expression of the slave’s being.” It is interesting to note that the word “God” in this passage does not have the definite article in front of it. It seems to be referring to the very essence or nature of God. As Wuest notes, he is not referring specifically to the three persons of the Godhead, but rather to the essence of God.
It seems that this passage is talking about one’s essence.
If I am to have the mind of Christ, if I am to be a true servant, then something must change beside my actions. There must be a reformation of my essence.