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ES/PHIL/10 Philippians 2:1-4

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  30:37
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Philippians 2:1–4 NKJV
1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Whenever there is a ‘therefore’ find out what it’s there for. So, we have to look at the previous passage and what this one is reminding us of. Here is the translation again by Gordon Fee of
Philippians 1:27 Only worthy of the gospel of Christ, live out your “citizenship” that you stand firm in the one Spirit, as one person contending together for the faith of the gospel.
Last week we heard that as citizens walking worthy of the Gospel in Christ we to be standing firm against opposition in the one Spirit together as one. So, last week we looked especially at external pressures and attacks but this week the link is that the Philippians must be united not only against outside enemies but also from internal pressures.
Preaching the Word: Philippians—The Fellowship of the Gospel Chapter 8: Living Worthily in the Church (Philippians 2:1–4)

a story from a Welsh newspaper about a church that was looking for a new pastor.

Yesterday the two opposition groups both sent ministers to the pulpit. Both spoke simultaneously, each trying to shout above the other. Both called for hymns, and the congregation sang two—each side trying to drown out the other. Then the groups began shouting at each other. Bibles were raised in anger. The Sunday morning service turned into a bedlam. Through it all, the two preachers continued to outshout each other with their sermons.

Eventually a deacon called a policeman. Two came in and began shouting for the congregation to be quiet. They advised the 40 persons in the church to return home. The rivals filed out, still arguing. Last night one of the group called a “let’s-be-friends” meeting. It broke up in argument.

This is quite extreme but the letter Paul wrote was not written in a vacuum, he was addressing issues in the fellowship, though, on the whole they were doing very well but if they fulfilled Paul’s instruction here he will be more than happy.
If we have had consolation, comfort, fellowship, affection, mercy from Christ and in Christ, in love and in the Spirit… If we have had… there is no doubt here. If and it is so is plainly meant here.
The first clause says if there is any consolation in Christ. This is closely tied to the suffering in the previous chapter. If we have known suffering for Christ we will also experience his comfort and encouragement in Christ. Suffering for Christ probably makes us more aware and perceptive of the comfort that we have in Christ and the reward that comes as a result.
The second of these clauses says: if any comfort of love. But of whose love are we talking of here? Well, seeing the first clause mentions Christ, and the third the Spirit, we can easily see that it is the Father’s love. And this is proven in another place where in it says in:
2 Corinthians 13:14 NKJV
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
We are in Christ (by grace we have been saved), love comes from God (the Father), and fellowship or communion comes through the Spirit. Love comes from God through Christ and the Spirit is given to those who are in Christ. The whole Trinity is at work to save us and to make us useful for the Kingdom of which we are citizens.
Because God’s love lavished upon the Philippians and we can conclude that this love is lavished upon us too as clearly stated in:
Romans 5:5 NKJV
5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
The knowledge of God’s love for us brings great comfort and encouragement and consolation and solace. It is, quoting the hymn, the “love that wilt not let me go”.
The third clause says if there is any fellowship of the Spirit. As we have seen before when looking at chapter 1:5 fellowship means sharing. This clause easily follows the previous two since it is the Spirit who puts us in Christ and it is by the Spirit that God’s love is shed abroad in our hearts. We now have a share in God by the Spirit and with each other who also have the Spirit.
After this there is a fourth clause: if any affection and mercy: since the last three clauses are true of what God has done for you then the result is affection and mercy to one another.

a merciful heart is a sign of having received mercy

The word we have translated ‘affection’ really means the ‘inward parts’. Paul is saying that he has feelings for them and expects the same from them and to each other: In other words Paul is saying
Paul is really bound up in the lives of the Philippian Church in wanting to see them be fruitful; in wanting them to persevere; and in the end, rejoice with Paul in Heaven.
And Paul will rejoice to the full, even more than he has already, if they can get to a place of unity. It is hard enough for the Gospel to go forward if there is a lack of unity, a lack of direction, a lack of love. Get on the same page is what Paul is saying walking as worthy citizens of the Kingdom of God.
So in verse 2 we see Paul saying basically the same thing three times in a personal appeal:
being like-minded,
having the same love,
being of one accord, of one mind.
Why? For the sake of the Gospel
We are to:

maintain unity and mutual care in the church

It is plain that in Philippi Paul had to emphasise this being of the same mind because of murmuring and bickering as we will see when we get to chapter 4:
Philippians 4:2 NKJV
2 I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.
Murmuring, according to the dictionary is a low continuous sound normally in the background. So, we can clearly infer that there was complaining, discontentedness and dissatisfaction going on behind the scenes as it were. This is hardly fellowship but disfellowship. Disunity seems to be moving though the fellowship. It does not take much for there to be a complete breakdown in relationships leading to a split and then where is the Gospel? You can see why Paul had to emphasise being of one mind because it is all too easy to be complainers sowing the seeds of destruction. Jesus Himself makes clear in a passage we have looked at recently in:
Mark 3:23–26 NKJV
23 So He called them to Himself and said to them in parables: “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end.
Division makes an end to the work whether it is of God or of Satan or of man.
Let us be clear: for the sake of the Kingdom of God and the Gospel and the glory of Christ we are to be of the same mindset as Christ which is set out in the very next verses. This does not mean we necessarily have the same opinion on everything but for the sake of the Gospel we get on together for the higher calling that we have as citizens of Heaven. Our unified goal is the Gospel. And we are to do this with everything within us both in thought and feeling. The overarching theme is unity in love though never at the expense of truth. Unity should not break down because of the fabric of the building in which we meet but only on essential doctrinal matters. Not on some egocentric, “I can do it better than you” in running a Church attitude. And this is what is addressed in the next two verses.
Self-ambition is at the heart of the fallenness of humankind. We want to do things for ourselves and not for others. This unfortunately puts us on opposing sides to that of God’s people and God Himself. Humility though is not something that comes easy. In fact, it is only with Christianity that this concept comes. Humility only comes when we truly know both what kind of failures and what kind of achievers we are and not make out we are better or worse than we actually are, But that does not allow for us to be egocentric or self-focused for this is something God hates. In humility count others as being more significant than yourself.

look out not [rather than ‘not only’] for your own rights

This only comes with the help of God. We are to be more focused upon the care of others more than the care of ourselves though it does not mean we should neglect ourselves either. It is to think of one another as being more important than ourselves.
Note that it is not saying that we are to think of others as better than ourselves in a moral sense because this may not be true and who is going to be the judge of that anyway? We may be better or they may be better morally, after all Christ is better than all of us and at no time did He think that we were better morally than Him. Yet He still was humble.
We are to be humble as Christ is humble and count others as being more important. The basis of caring for others is not based on worthiness but upon need. We are to count other people’s needs as surpassing our own. And it is in this way that Christ humbled Himself – our need is what sent Him to the cross to purchase our salvation as those who would otherwise be lost.
Paul speaks of one another continually throughout his letters. We are to take note that we are to be for one another who are in Christ. What does Paul say about one another?

Believers are members of one another (Rom 12:5; Eph 4:25), who are to build up one another (1 Thess 5:11; Rom 14:19), to care for one another (1 Cor 12:25), to love one another (1 Thess 3:12; 4:9; 2 Thess 1:3; Rom 13:8), to pursue one another’s good (1 Thess 5:15), to bear with one another in love (Eph 4:2); to bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2); to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another (Eph 4:32; cf. Col 3:13), to submit to one another (Eph 5:21), to be devoted to one another in love (Rom 12:10), to live in harmony with one another (Rom 12:16), and (here) to consider one another more important than themselves (Phil 2:3; cf. Rom 12:10).

A good illustration of considering one another is in a story told by Harry Mabry:
Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 3203 Feeding One Another in Heaven

A man had just arrived in Heaven, told Peter how grateful he was to be in such a glorious place, and asked Peter to give him one glimpse into Hades in order that he might appreciate his good fortune even more. This Peter did.

In Hades he saw a long table extending as far as the eye could reach, laden down with the most delicious of all varieties of foods. But everyone around the table was starving to death. When asked for an explanation, Peter said, “Everyone is required to take food from the table only with four-foot-long chopsticks. They are so long that no one can reach the food from the table to his mouth, and therefore each one is dying of starvation.”

Quickly they returned to Heaven, and behold, the new arrival saw an identical table, laden down with identical foods, but everyone around the table was happy and well fed. Then he said to Peter: “With what do they take the food from the table?” and Peter answered, “Only with four-foot-long chopsticks.” At that the new arrival inquired: “Then why are all those in Hades starving to death while all those up here are so well fed and happy?” Whereupon Peter replied: “In Heaven we feed each other.”

So if we have had consolation, comfort, fellowship, affection and mercy THEN we are without excuse knowing the goodness of God towards us therefore we should seek the good of those who have also experienced God’s grace. For if God so loved them what right have we to judge their worthiness? Are we indeed worthy? No. But we have been bought at the very expensive price of Jesus’ blood as have they. So if God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit judges those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ as worthy of being in His family, then why are we so full of petty annoyances?
So let us consider how we are to love one another since we have experienced such a great salvation for these things do not come without thoughtfulness. Because of God’s grace, love and mercy towards us we can in turn be gracious, loving and merciful to one another.
Living wills are all the rage these days but Jesus, as usual was ahead of the curve and left us a living will as He was about to go to His death:
John 13:34–35 NKJV
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
If we become those where we are like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind then this produces the conditions in which the harvest grows, where the Gospel has a bigger chance of progressing and for us being more effective in the world.
If we are do not reveal unity like that Welsh church we heard about at the beginning then what is that telling the world? We are worse than them!

The joyful unity of believers in Christ offers a powerful testimony to the world that the God of love they preach is real, active, and eager to bring others into His loving family.

And to this end we should pray.

Benediction

2 Corinthians 13:11 NKJV
Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Bibliography

Bockmuehl, M. (1997). The Epistle to the Philippians. London: Continuum.
Fee, G. D. (1995). Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Hughes, R. K. (2007). Philippians: the fellowship of the gospel. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Leadership Ministries Worldwide. (1996). Galatians–Colossians. Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide.
Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.
Lightfoot, J. B. (Ed.). (1913). Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. London: Macmillan and Co., ltd.
Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 19:11 10 March 2018.
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