SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2
by Jason Pate & Parker Windle
“1Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
- I. Why be United? (v. 1) the use of the “if…then” statement is rhetorical. Paul assumes that the conditions of the “if” statements will be present in the life of someone who has been converted by the Spirit of God.
- a. “If there is any encouragement in Christ”
– Literally means, if there is any ground of appeal to you in Christ. Paul begins this chapter by stating that placing the ground of his appeal in a living relationship with Christ. Paul is saying that the first thing a relationship with Christ should “encourage” is to be united with one another.
- b. “If any consolation in love”
– The word for “consolation” signifies an incentive. In other words, love, which always arises from the gospel, will motivate us towards unity.
- c. “If there is any fellowship with the Spirit”
– “Fellowship” is communicating the idea that we are partners with the Holy Spirit in His work. What is His work?
– Ephesians 4:3 “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” :the Spirit brings unity, yet we also have a command to preserve that unity
– Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Love is the first fruit mentioned, which, as in the preceding clause, leads to unity
- d. “If any affection and compassion”
– Words that are communicating the higher emotions. This is not merely talking about feelings that can be swayed by how one’s day is going, but of a deeper, gospel motivated way of thinking and feeling. Ideas of unity ought to bring tender intentions of compassion towards our brothers and sisters in Christ.
- II. The content of unity (v. 2) “make my joy complete” – Paul has planted the church in Philippi and has been encouraged by this church on many accounts. They have proven to be great givers (4:10-20), “participated in the gospel” (1:5) and have “partaken in grace” (1:7). There has been some strife amongst a few of the members (4:2-3), so it would take only unity to make his joy complete.
- a. “By being of the same mind”
– biblical unity involves thoughts that are consistently fixed on the same thing, namely, the gospel and the conclusions that we must draw from it.
- b. “Maintaining the same love”
– “Love” here probably refers both to loving the same things and to loving in the same way.
– Who did the Philippians love? Paul sees their dedication to supporting him as a missionary as an important part of a right love. They sent Epaphroditus on what may be likened to a short term mission trip in order to make sure Paul had what he needed to accomplish his mission. He almost died on this trip. (2:25-30) (4:18)
– In what way did the Philippians love? In a selfless way, which Paul will speak to in the following verses.
- c. “United in Spirit” – word unity is used here, which is the focus of the first part of this chapter.
- d. “Intent on one purpose”
– No church can be united if the purpose for its existence is not clear. This purpose is the mission of God, as evidenced from the message of this book. This church has been participating in what Paul is doing. He has been in jail, yet rejoiced in this because he saw it as a means of accomplishing his purpose, namely, the salvation of people. (1:12-14)
– A good image is that of a basketball team. A point guard must be good at dribbling and passing, but they often have inadequate rebounding skills. There are other players on the team who rebound well, but they need the point guard if a shot is ever going to be taken. The goal of a team is not to rebound or dribble, but to win. Winning takes 5 players each performing their role for the goal to be accomplished. Spiritual gifts work in the same way. Everyone has a diversity of gifts, but for them to be useful, there must be a unity of purpose. Spiritual gifts are only useful if they serve the mission of God to take the gospel to the nations.
- III. The “how” of unity (v.3-4)- “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
- a. The main way to corrupt unity is to make your personal agenda self-focused rather than kingdom focused. Then an individual’s focus will be different that the churches, and breach the plea of Paul to have the same mind, love, and purpose.
- b. A good litmus test for individuals is the one Paul offers here. Do you notice yourself thinking of yourself more than you do about others? Are you arguing for your own rights rather than the purpose of the body? Are you someone who encourages mission or one who shackles God’s purposes?
- IV. Christ’s mission; read 2:5-11
“5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
– No one put aside more personal desires for the sake of God’s mission than Jesus. He emptied himself of his glory to save humanity. To lay aside personal interest for the unity of the Church is to be Christ-like.