Summary: Message reviews 12 key verses in Philippians that are particularly helpful in the Christian's daily life.
We have completed a detailed study of Philippians. The epistle is full of counsel for the way Christians should think about life and all its components. What should be our mindset about Christ, about the will of God, about life and death, about the challenges we face in life, and a variety of other issues. That theme is clearly stated in 2:5: “Let this mind [mindset, attitude, way of thinking] be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
To demonstrate how pervasive this theme is, at the end of this message, I have provided a quick survey identifying how every verse communicates something about the way we should think. For example, in 1:6 Paul talks about his mindset concerning God’s work of sanctification in believers’ lives. Then in verse 7 he says, “Just as it is right for me to think this of you all.” It would take too much time to walk through this survey today. But in your personal studies I encourage you to review it. It will help you see the theme as it runs through this letter like a silver thread.
Today we conclude this series by reviewing 12 gems we have discovered during this study. Just as a miner digs deep to find wealth, we have dug into this book and found some precious jewels. These are memorable quotes that will guide your thinking as you walk through your Christian journey. You may have already committed some of them to memory. As you wield the sword of the Spirit you will find these quotes very effective against your adversary the devil.i We will only have time to briefly touch on each one. But for each of these we will point out the mindset being suggested either by example or by command. I am quoting all of these from the New King James Version.ii
1. Phil. 1:21: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Paul spoke this in the context of facing Roman execution. In his thinking, physical death is a promotion into glory where his communion with Christ will be even more intimate. Instead of dreading the day of his death, he looks forward to being ushered into the presence of the Lord. On the day his spirit leaves his body, he will be immediately with the Lord. He states that understanding in 2 Corinthians 5:8: “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
But in the meantime, while in this mortal body, life is about Christ! It is about pursuing our relationship with Him. It is about doing His will. It is about advancing the gospel of Christ and honoring Him in every way possible. Life is not about living out my own agenda. Life is not about seeking comfort or seeking pleasure. Life is about the glory of God in Christ Jesus. So that is Paul’s mindset about life and death. Phil. 1:21: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
2. Phil. 2:4: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” This is a key to human relationships. It flows out of the second great commandment to love one’s neighbor as ourselves. It is common for people’s goals to clash. This usually results in conflict at some level. When that happens, the first order of business is for each person to deal with his selfishness. Am I sincerely pursuing the wellbeing of the other person with the same passion that I have for my own self-interest? If people can get the mindset commanded in this verse, they are in a good position for resolving their differences.
Neither Jesus nor Paul could get everyone to be at peace with them. But they were able to keep their hearts right toward those who opposed them. On the cross Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). Even while they were murdering Him, He still had their best interest in mind. So that should be our mindset toward the interests of others. Phil. 2:4: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
3. Phil. 2:5: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” This is the central, defining statement in the epistle. Paul follows up with a description of Jesus’s way of thinking—His absence of self-promotion (laying aside the privileges of deity to purchase our salvation); His humble submission to the Father’s will; His obedience even unto the death of the cross. It is a lesson on trustful obedience.
This whole letter revolves around the idea that we would have the same attitude of heart that Jesus demonstrated during his life on earth—that we would embrace His way of thinking. Facing His most challenging ordeal, Jesus prayed in the garden, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:39). Likewise, we are to pray on a daily basis, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). That is to be our mindset toward the will of God. Phil. 2:5: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”