Summary: The focus on unity is to be able to think the same thing, have the same love, joined in soul, and thinking one thing.
Make My Joy Complete
Oct 31, 2010 Phil. 2:1-4
What would it take to make you truly happy? I don’t presuppose in the question that you are unhappy at the moment, but I want to get you thinking for a moment about that question, and locate at least the beginnings of an answer. And don’t worry, I won’t ask you to speak it publicly. What would it take to make you truly happy?
That question leads us into our passage of Philippians, as we reach the formidable milestone of finishing chapter 1 (insert cheers!). We don’t leave chapter 1 behind completely, because Paul’s command in 1:27 continues to set the topic – “Above all, as citizens of heaven conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.” Remember that when we looked at this verse, I explained that it was uncharacteristic for Paul to write of one thing “above all”, and that he usually piled up ideas and phrases together to make his point – this morning you will see what I meant… In chapter 2:1-4, Paul starts a new sentence and continues to explore what it means to live “as citizens of heaven” and “conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.”
Phil 2:1-4 (NLT):
1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
I want to re-read the passage now, but rather than doing what our translators have done in writing the sentence so that we could best make sense of it, I want to show you more literal translation that better captures how Paul wrote it:
if any comfort in Christ
if any encouragement of love
if any fellowship of the Spirit
if any affection and compassion
make my joy complete
that you may think the same thing
having the same love
joined in soul
thinking the one thing
nothing according to selfishness or empty conceit
but with humility regarding one another as more important than yourselves
not looking out for your own things
but also for those of others.
(from Silva, M. Philippians (2nd ed.) Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 2005. p. 85-86.)
The passage begins with “therefore”, which takes us back to the “big idea” in the previous passage, of how to live as Christians. The main verb comes in the middle, our verse 2, with Paul saying “make my joy complete”. He leads up to that, and then flows out of that, and we see the overarching idea being the essential nature of unity that comes from choosing to put others ahead of ourselves. That is the main point of the passage – the unity that needs to characterize our life together as fellow citizens, and what that means in really tangible terms in verses 3-4.