Philippians 2:1-8 ESV
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
We believe that the only way we can show people that Christ loves them is through us loving each other and living in unity. But it is sooooooo hard.
2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,
Encouragement or exhortation - Paul reminds the Philippians of what Christ had said himself and what He had said through the Apostles: you have been shown and told how to live. Christ encouraged us to live as He did.
There can be no real Christian unity without the foundation of scripture. You can be in unity about a lot of things, but you can’t be in the unity of the Gospel without the Gospel.
Comfort from love - Paul knew that the Philippians had experienced the comfort associated with the love of Christ lived out through others. The unconditional love of God brings comfort in all circumstances. Paul was arguing that the comfort they had received should drive them toward unity and away from divisiveness.
Participation in the Spirit - The Holy Spirit was the uniting force. You could be unified around robbing a bank or slandering a neighbor. In the church, the unifying element is participation in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit in us binds us together across borders, culture, race, socio-economic status.
Affection and sympathy - Paul was reminding them of the tenderness and compassion they had experienced in the church. These were and are necessary ingredients for unity - the ability to understand someone else’s circumstances.
Since all these things exist be of the same mind, same love and full accord - Paul wanted the Philippians to be unified together for the purposes God had laid out for them. He knew there were some outstanding divisions in their midst and wanted them to be reconciled.
In Chapter 4 he addresses an issue between Euodia and Syntche, two women who had labored with Paul in the work of the Gospel. He asks the church to help them be in unity.
2. Practical Unity
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
Philippians 1:12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.
If selfish ambition is motivating your actions, it’s better not to do anything. Unity will never come from selfish motivations. Paul’s imprisonment was emboldening those who were preaching Christ for Christ’s sake. The others were being negative about Paul’s imprisonment to advance their own status. If someone has to fail for you to succeed there will never be unity.
Value others more. Do we value others the way Christ values us?
Putting others first is first in the Gospels. How can we be sent to make disciples putting ourselves in front of the ones we were sent to?
Consider the interest of others - In the land of freedom the Gospel compels me to consider others before expressing that freedom. Just because I can doesn’t mean I should.
1 Corinthians 10:23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
All things may be permissible, but have we taken into consideration the other person’s interest? We are to be focused on the good of the people around us as much as ourselves.
Unity is born from having the mind of Christ. Unity happens when we don’t hold positions higher than relationships. Unity happens when we humble ourselves for others. Unity happens when we serve others from a heart of love. Unity happens when we put no limits on our love for others.
1. What stood out to you most from this week’s message?
2. How is unity different from agreeing about everything?
3. When have you been in a situation where unity was not valued?
4. What are some things that make unity difficult to achieve?
5. How can we make sure we are unified around things that are important to God instead of focusing on things that divide us?
6. How can we have unconditional love for others without condoning their sin? How does that look in relationships?
7. When others in our lives are divided, how can we lovingly encourage and support reconciliation between them?
8. How can we focus on the goal of unity and resist the world’s influence to insist on our own way or be in competition so we win and others lose?
9. What does it look like when we treat others with the compassion and encouragement God has shown to us?
10. What do you plan to do differently this week because of this week’s message?