BE LIKE CHRIST
PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH
PHILIPPIANS 2:1-11 09 JULY 2023
Christ desires unity. Love persuades Christians to be united.
Paul describes this unity in Romans 12:10: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.”
The Spirit desires the unity of the Body of Christ. We see this in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 as Paul says, “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.
A part of that unity is that Christians have tender mercies and compassion toward their brothers and sisters in Christ. And those tender mercies and that compassion also require self-denial in order to get along with one another.
Paul longed for unity. He continually taught them that they could make him happy by avoiding divisions in the Body. The fruitful motives for unity are those Paul suggests: our being in Christ; our common love.
Unity, whenever it comes, comes more readily as a result of heart feelings than of intellectual conquests of the adversaries.
He longed for them to heal their differences and become unified in Christ.
Being unified in the Body of Christ means we have the same mind. We are like-minded. We have the same love for one another. We exist in one accord – that is, in one Spirit. We operate with one mind – that is with one purpose.
There are five motives for being of one spirit, one mind, one love, one purpose,
1. The consolation of being in Christ.
2. The persuasive power of love.
3. The fellowship or participation we have in the Holy Spirit.
4. Tender mercies and compassions, both those which we feel within ourselves and those we receive from others.
5. The personal appeal from Paul.
When Paul speaks of encouragement in verse 1 of Philippians 2, he is speaking of that consolation of being in Christ. As Christians, we do have both consolation and exhortation. We are stirred up to live holy lives and hard labor by the truth of the Gospel.
At the same time, we are consoled and reassured by the promises of the Gospel.
While we exist in this one accord environment, we display certain attitudes and actions because we are of one accord.
We are of the same mind. We are impartial, viewing all in the same manner.
We try to think as Christ would think.
We have the same love. Being of one accord simply means that we are souled together.
I mentioned the fellowship or participation we have in the Holy Spirit. Fellowship is sharing, participating in something of agreement among those in the fellowship.
People are said to be in fellowship when they are so united that what belongs to one belongs to the other, or what is true of one is also true of the others.
Christians have a share of participation in the Holy Spirit. He is given to us as a gift when we repent and are baptized. He lives in our body as His temple – 1 Corinthians 6:19: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”
He brings us much desirable fruit. This participation in the Spirit should easily lead us to unity. Sometimes I believe that is where we lack – why disunity takes place – when we don’t understand that His Spirit is a part of ourselves.
The Holy Spirit is the unifying personality in the Church. He alone can bring order out of chaos and preserve harmony in the Body of Christ.
Then, Paul talks about tenderness and compassion.
As Christians, we do share many kind feelings and actions, both within ourselves and from others.
There are dear friends who come to our needs when we are in distress. They speak kind and encouraging words. Sometimes kind words, tell us when we are doing something wrong.
Paul goes on, in verse 3, to talk about selfish ambition and vain conceit. These motivate many Christians more than Christ or tenderness does.
This is self-seeking, electioneering, promoting our own little party or clique. It causes one group to try to top another group = that is called competition.
It is good to be stirred up by the example of others to love and good works, but the desire to promote ourselves or our faction at the expense of others is sin.
Vain conceit is the useless desire to glorify ourselves. This is the pride of life – one of the strongest and most basic temptations we experience.
Such vain glory hinders our having the unity we should have with our brethren.
In verse 8 Paul mentions the humility of Christ in His obedience even to the point of death. And God exalted Him and bestowed upon Him the name that is above all names.
However, God is not impressed with our education, our wealth, our physical beauty, nor our possessions.
We must not scorn the lowly nor despise the mighty. We must count others as better than ourselves.
Respect for others is something that must be cultivated. Self-respect and self-pride come naturally. We have to actually work to overcome them.
Acts 4:32 says: “All the believers were one in heart and in mind.” We do nothing through faction or vain glory.
These expressions make it clear what Paul is trying to achieve – Unity of the Body. He is not proposing that we become puppets, orchestrated by any one person. After all, we are all different in the way we look; in the way we think; in the talents we possess; we are even different in the stages of our relationship to Christ.
Christianity can be described as a harmony of differences. Look at Romans 12:3-8: Paul lists several areas in which we as the Body of Christ are to live in harmony even among our differences, exercising our individual gifts according to the grace given to each of us.
Prophecy, service, teaching, exhorting, giving, leading, showing mercy. These are all gifts given to different individuals in the Body of Christ. Each is to be carried out using sound judgment as God has allotted to each a measure of faith – as Paul states in Romans 12:3.
I like to hear a good gospel quartet singing. Those in the quartet don’t all sing the same part. There is a lead singer who carries the melody; a bass singer who sings the bass line; the tenor, who harmonizes above the lead singer; and the baritone, who sings the part that completes the chord. Each one of these can sing their part separately. But, when they put all the parts together we hear a sound that is pleasing to the ear. It is in harmony.
The music is blended together. The body of Christ is like that. Each of us has a voice that we can use to glorify God, that we can use to sing or teach or tell others about Christ. But, when all our voices are in one accord, the harmony is beautiful and effective in bringing others to Christ.
The bottom line is that we need each other in order for the church of Christ to be effective within the church and outside the church in our individual lives.
Only love can bring us together. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:5 that “love is not self-seeking.”
It is when one counts himself better than another that there is strife.
Pride and selfishness produce division. The remedy is, rather than self-seeking – self-surrender.
If love is the summit of the Christian life, humility is its foundation. Hear Jesus teaching in Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
The gate of life is as low as it is narrow.
Let your primary concern be to look out for the things of others. Think: how will my behavior or my actions affect my weaker brother or sister in Christ or someone who does not know Christ? Our focus must be on others rather than ourselves.
The supreme example of everything Paul is trying to say in the first four verses of Philippians 2 is summed up in the life and the example of Jesus.
When Christians have the mind of Christ, they do not please themselves (Romans 15:3) “For even Christ did not please Himself.” When we have the mind of Christ we live in peace and harmony.