Summary: I know God has great plans and great purpose for this church. It could be threatened by disharmony. From people not being likeminded. We need to pray and use these incentives to claim like-mindedness for the sake and cause of Jesus Christ.
There was a young man who was a candidate for the ministry. He was about to preach his very first sermon. As he went up to preach he new he was well prepared and he had confidence in his abilities. Before he started to preach the veteran pastor who saw him approach the pulpit with an attitude of pride just shook his head. The young man preached his first sermon and he failed miserably. He left the pulpit in humility after such a failure.
The young preacher asked the veteran pastor what happened, I was so confident and prepared? The veteran pastor told him, “If you had gone up the way you came down, you would have come down the way you went up.” Sometimes we fail miserably because of foolish pride. The Bible calls us to humility, Especially in these verses Philippians 2:1-4.
How often do we ourselves fail because our own foolish pride causes us to act in the flesh rather than in humility and depend on the Lord? Paul in these verses is writing to the Philippian Christians. He wants them to be like-minded. He wants there to be harmony in their church so he gives them the keys to church harmony. The main aspect of to church harmony is humility. Paul gives the Christians incentives for being like-minded.
Paul speaks of the great mercies we have from our Lord. Paul uses these great mercies of God to motivate the Philippians. He wants them to be like-minded. To motivate them to be like-minded he does not use manipulation or a guilt trip. Paul uses mercy incentives. We would do well to think of these incentives and apply them to our hearts. That we too would be like-minded as a fellowship. It is an attitude that Paul wants the people of Philippi to have. More than just a mental like-mindedness, but an emotional attitude of putting Jesus Christ first in their life. He uses these incentives so they would be like-minded, all with the same purpose in Jesus Christ.
We see these incentives that Paul talks about. He says, vs. 1 “If you have any encouragement in being united in Christ.”
I) Being united with Jesus Christ is incentive for like-mindedness.
Becoming a Christian you are united with Jesus Christ. If that is not incentive for like-mindedness, then I do not know what is. To think back that we as sinners have been saved by grace and that we are united with Christ is a great a great incentive for us to be like-minded as a church body.
Illustration-Away from the Lord
I think back on my own life, wondering for years apart from the Lord. I talked about this with a friend of mine in college. After I became a Christian he showed me a prayer list that he had. He had been praying for twenty people in our fraternity to become Christians. I said to him as I looked at that list, and he was a good friend of mine, one thing I want to ask you about. We are good friends and my name was not on that list? Why were you were not praying for me? He said you know why? I did not think you would become a Christian. I thought your heart was too hard to become a Christian. He thought my heart was too hard, yet the Lord saved me miraculously, I was that one whose heart was so hardened.
When I think of the great incentive of being united in Christ, all that I did while I was apart from the Lord, yet Jesus Christ came into my life and I became united with Christ. I am sure there are many people here who can think back on their own life away from the Lord, whether in a dramatic way or just in a way of attitude you did things displeasing to the Lord. For you, now you think, how wonderful it is that I am united with Christ!
What an incentive for like-mindedness. This is what Paul used for the Philippians to become like-minded and this should be our incentive for being like-minded. Think how wonderful it is that we are united with Christ. Let that be an incentive for like-mindedness and church harmony. Paul does not stop there with this incentive. He uses another incentive. It is the very love of Christ.
II) The Love of Christ is an incentive for like-mindedness Vs. 1
There could be no stronger love than the love of Christ. Paul uses this love as an incentive for the Christians in Philippi to be like-minded. Jesus said, "Greater love has no man than this than one lay down his life for his friends." What a tremendous love to love someone so much to lay down your life for that person. Here is Jesus Christ and he loved us so much that he laid down his life willingly that we might know eternal life. This love can hardly be grasped it is so wonderful. This should be an incentive for us to be like-minded. How often do we think about this great love that Christ showed for us? Let this be an incentive for our church to serve with one purpose having this like-mindedness.