Summary: This message expounds Phil. 2:1-5 focusing on the mindset Christians are to have toward one another. Social justice issues are addressed as well as personal relationships.
Our text today is found in Philippians 2:1-5. I am reading from the New King James Version.
“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. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”i
In this appeal Paul gives the secret to enjoying peaceful, meaningful relationships especially with other Christians. The principle can be applied to our dealings with unbelievers, but Paul’s focus in this passage is relationships among believers.
The passage naturally falls into two categories. First, Paul points to the basis of his appeal in verse 1 and the first part of verse 2. Then he states the specifics of the appeal telling these Philippians Christians what they need to do.
I. BASIS OF PAUL'S APPEAL
The passage begins with the word, “Therefore.” That connects our text with the latter part of chapter 1. This paragraph builds on last week’s text in 1:27-30. There Paul wrote:
“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. 29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.”
Today’s text continues with the theme of conducting our lives in a manner worthy or consistent with the gospel we proclaim. The NIV says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” That conduct includes faithfully enduring persecution from the world and maintaining unity in the congregation. The “therefore” in our text is particularly reminiscent of Paul’s call to unity in 1:27 to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.
This is a timely word in today’s environment. The world is in turmoil dealing with the pandemic and the rebellion in the streets. We are experiencing an unusual level of stress as we approach the election in November. Everyone knows the stakes are high. There is a lot of emotion surrounding differences about the direction America will go from here. Will we move toward the more socialistic agenda of the democrats, or will we proceed with more individual liberty under the capitalistic Republican platform? As a Christian I base my political views on my understanding of Scripture. Some who disagree with me say they are doing the same. So, we are experiencing an unprecedented tension even among Christians. In times like these we must be exceptionally careful to promote unity among believers while maintaining our personal convictions.
Much of the debate among Christians revolves around social justice. For conservatives the greatest violation of social justice is the murder of unborn children. That one issues significantly affects the way I vote. I don’t want the blood of those innocent children on my hands.ii For liberals that issue is answered by categorizing the child in the womb as non-human. For them the bigger social issues are wealth disparities, prejudices, and sexual freedom such as the LGBTQ rights.
Both sides want social justice. But what social justice looks like for conservatives versus liberals can be very different. That is where the divide can be significant. As we debate those issues we must distinguish between heresy versus differences in priorities.
On the one hand, those who reject the authority of Scripture and the fundamentals of the faith should be sharply rebuked. The current movement that rejects moral accountability to the commandments of God should be opposed. Jude tells us to stand up against that kind of heresy. In verses 3-4 he writes:
“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”