Summary: Christians need to be of one mind and one love. But too often we're so focused on ourselves that we can't reach that goal. So how do we change our self-centered way of thinking?
OPENING: A city boy had never been on a farm before and he asked a farmer: “Mister, why doesn’t this cow have any horns?” The farmer cocked his head for a moment, then began in a patient tone, “Well, cattle can do a powerful lot of damage with their horns. Sometimes we keep ’em trimmed down with a hacksaw. Other times we can fix up the young’uns by puttin’ a couple drops of acid where their horns would grow in. Still, there are other breeds of cattle that never do grow horns. But the reason this cow don’t have no horns, is (pause) ’cause it’s a horse.”
You’d think even a city boy would know the difference between a horse & a cow… but then you’d also think that a Christian would know the difference between true Christianity and what a lot of folks THINK is Christianity.
In passage today, Paul’s telling the Philippian church what Christianity should look like, bit what he’s describing doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people. In fact, there are many, in churches across the land, who still don’t know what TRUE Christianity looks like. They may have great doctrine. They may have a beautiful building. They may have a dynamic preacher. But they couldn’t tell a horse from a cow when it came to Christianity.
So let’s look at this passage again. Paul writes: “complete my joy by being of the SAME mind, having the SAME love, being in FULL ACCORD and of ONE mind.” Philippians 2:2
Did you catch the emphasis here??? Same mind, same love, full accord (agreement). That’s what Christianity should look like. And when Christians live together like that there is a powerful atmosphere of joy, excitement and unity.
But too often – Christians DON’T look like that.
ILLUS: Scott tells me the story of a church that argued over what color of shingles to put on the roof of the church building. Some of them wanted red shingles and others wanted green. And they actually got into quite a heated argument over it. But eventually they compromised. They decided to shingle one half of the roof with red shingles… and the other half with green. And from that day on – the ½ that wanted red sat under the red shingles and those who wanted green sat under the green shingles.
ILLUS: On a more serious note, some years ago, there was a split in a Dallas church and lawsuits were filed to determine who should own the property. The judge referred the case back to their denomination to handle. During the hearing, the CHURCH courts discovered that the conflict had begun years before at a church dinner when a certain elder was served a smaller piece of ham than the child seated next to him.
“Christians” sometimes just don’t behave like Christians.
Now God knew that was going to happen. He knew people would have a hard time living up to that standard. He knew we’d have difficulty being of one mind and one love. And there’s a reason why that was going to be. As Romans 3:23 tells us “We’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Every Christian in church has come out of a sinful mindset, and there are times they have a hard time leaving that sinful character behind.
That’s why Paul wrote this stuff in Philippians. If we understand what Paul’s telling us here, if we decide to take the prescription he sets forth in this passage, then we will be of one mind and have one love. And then we will look like Christians.
So, what’s the prescription?
“Do nothing from SELFISH AMBITION or CONCEIT, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look NOT ONLY TO HIS OWN INTERESTS, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” Philippians 2:3-5
In other words – It’s selfishness. It’s ambition. It’s conceit. It’s looking out for my OWN interests FIRST that leads to problems in the church. That’s how a horse ends up looking like a cow in church.
But now, let’s read our passage again: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but IN HUMILITY count OTHERS MORE SIGNIFICANT THAN YOURSELVES. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also TO THE INTERESTS OF OTHERS. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” Philippians 2:3-5
Notice the highlighted phrases… it’s THOSE things that can make us look like the Christians. Now, also notice what Paul’s saying here: it’s OK to look out for your OWN INTERESTS. I mean – you’ve got to supply for your own family, you’ve got to pay your bills, take care of your home, take care of your body … etc. etc..