Reflection on our Home Text – Philippians 2:1-13.
Week 1 March 12 Philippians 2:1-4
Therefore 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.
Our home text begins with a “therefore” and so what is said here comes out of what Paul has just previously said.
What he has said is summarised like this:
People of God, you have been given the gift of believing in Jesus and privilege of suffering with him as you share the struggle of following his way together.
Therefore, If my suffering (Paul writes from prison), my preaching among you, my witness of my life when with you, my words spoken and written have given you any
- Encouragement to stay in the faith of following Christ
- Comfort in our suffering together in Jesus
- Fellowship with each other and the Holy Spirit
Or experience of the compassion and mercy shown to you by the Lord in Jesus, and they surely have given you these things,
Then don’t just give an intellectual or outward appearance of agreement with each other, with me and with Jesus but highly value, feel, believe and act together.
Share one soul, one common affection, the same desire, hold the same value – the high value of living in harmony with each other and God.
So, we see that as Paul writes this letter to the community he funded and loves very much, he tells the people in clear terms this:
Unity of heart and purpose is essential for the community of God for three reasons;
- Growth in faith and in loving relationships
- Fruitful Witness to the good news of Jesus among people
- Victory over sin in our lives.
WHAT HINDERS UNITY?
What kills growth and learning in faith and love?
What kills a faithful and effective witness to Christ?
What kills victory over sin?
Paul tells us:
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” (2:3-4)
In the original language: “empty opinion” and “party-spirit” – not as in going to parties to getting carried away but cliquiness and divisive groups within the whole group.
What kills unity, and therefore growth in faith, fruitful witness and victory over sin among the people of God is “empty opinion” and that shows itself in these things;
- A group within the community claiming to be right and asserting an opinion over another group or individual
- When a group within the community are ambitious for their own reputation
- When a group within the Christian community are conceited and puffed up with their own importance with no basis or good reason.
- When a group within the congregation are primarily concerned with preserving their own group and/or opinion by either fighting for their rights or separating from the body to please themselves.
WHAT HELPS UNITY
But here we see Paul advising the Christ way to go as a community of believers;
What helps Growth in faith in Christ and love in relationships?
What helps the community of God to bear fruitful witness in their local community?
What helps the congregation live in Christ’s victory over sin and evil and the evil one?
In humility look on others’ deep concerns and strongly held opinions and focus more on their interests that your own group’s interests.
HOW DO WE HELP
And where do we find the way to focus more on the interests of other people’s concerns?
Paul finds the example and the power in being a healthy church which is growing in faith and love, bearing fruitful witness in the community and living in Jesus’ victory over sin and death and the evil one by looking to Jesus and his way of humility. he chooses a song to illustrate this and point people to Jesus.
Paul connects us to Jesus and his humility to help us be a healthy community of disciples growing, learning, bearing fruitful witness and living in Jesus’ victory over our old Adam within and the evil we face without by calling the people to sing a hymn!
The Lord says to us tonight – in a nutshell:
Evaluate others carefully in the light of the love of Jesus for everyone.
Paul will drive this home in these Lenten Devotions when he points us to a beautiful song about Jesus in the following verses.
We will look at this next week, but for now we just hear it and sense the Spirit connecting us to this ancient song about Jesus as the example of how we be a healthy Christian congregation growing, bearing good fruit and living in our baptismal victory with Jesus.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!