Summary: Finding joy does not involve making your circumstances better - it involves making your mind work like Jesus’ mind. Find out how and how unity works with different kinds of people.
John 17:20-21 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
It was Jesus’ prayer that we as the body of Christ should be "one" - unified - a whole. Yet today Christ’s body seems anything but one - we have denominations who go to war with each other over interpretations of Scripture - we have churches broken into a million pieces over petty disagreements of non-existent issues. We have lives torn down and destroyed because pride was more important than humility and forgiveness.
It’s amazing that we should even think that the body of Christ could ever be unified - its made up of such a diversity of people. So is the answer that we should all get brain-washed and simply agree because we have to? That isn’t unity - it’s a wax museum. I think the Lord actually has something a lot better for us - and believe it or not, it’s joy.
John 15:10-13 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
So Jesus gave us the key - He wants us to have "complete" joy - and the way is to love one another and give of yourself to one another. Jesus gives the key, Paul unlocks the door here in Philippians.
There are four basic messages in this chapter:
1. Get along together with one mind
2. Help each other to become stronger in the Lord
3. Stop arguing and complaining - get to work spreading the gospel
4. Welcome my brothers as an example of what you should be
The only way the gospel can effectively go out from the church is if its members are united.
1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with 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 purpose.
Verse 1: "Encouragement" is the same word used for the Holy Spirit - and can mean "comfort" or "exhortation." We have all received comfort from the fact that we have been taken out of darkness and placed into the body of Jesus Christ - the Light of the World.
"Comfort" - the word is related to "encouragement" but is slightly different. "Encouragement" means "to call near" whereas "comfort" means "to tell alongside." So in a way you might say that Jesus came near to us through His death (thus encouragement) and told us of His love (comfort).
"Fellowship" is Koinonia - that "interconnectedness" that is the result of the encouragement and comfort of the love. We are bound together - no longer "going our own way."
Paul wants his joy to be "made complete" or "fulfilled" in the King James. It means "To cram the net full" - in a sense Paul is saying that all the things in verse 1 are wonderful - but to make his joy complete or filled up - he desires unity in the body of Christ. This is the same word Jesus used in John 15 to say He desires for our joy to be "complete."
1. Be like minded
It means "to think the same thing." That is, make what Jesus did the basis for how we think - think like He thinks.
2. Have the same love - act like He acts.
3. Being one in spirit and purpose
The result is that we desire the same thing and thinking precisely the same thing.
What he’s talking about is unity - unity is not the absence of opposition. Unity is not that everyone just thinks like you do! In fact in normal groups of people, unity doesn’t exist - even in churches! People are different. So how do we unify? Around the commonality of Jesus Christ and the purpose of self sacrificial love - a love that considers others "better than yourself" and a love that drives us towards not worrying about the differences so we can concentrate on sharing the gospel.
This kind of character is laid out plainly in verses 3-11
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.