Title: Make Paul's Joy Complete by Being Like-Minded, Having the Same Love
Scripture: (Philippians 2:1-2, NIV)
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
Even Paul’s “ideal” congregation contained “difficult” people. Paul was facing his problems with people at Rome (Philippians 1:15-18) as well as with people in Philippi, and it was the latter who concerned him the most. These verses clearly imply some disharmony in the church at Philippi. When Epaphroditus brought a generous gift to Rome from the church in Philippi and good news of the church’s concern for Paul, he also brought the bad news of a possible division in the church family. Apparently there was a double threat to the unity of the church; false teachers coming in from without (Philippians 3:1-3) and disagreeing members within (Philippians 4:1-3). Paul does not state what Euodia and Syntyche were debating about. Perhaps they both wanted to be president of the missionary society or the choir!
The remedy, Paul tells them, is to forget themselves, think of their neighbors, and be humble like Christ. They will do this by “being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind”.
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfortI from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ . . .
Paul begins the weightiest section of the Epistle with an impassioned appeal for unity based on the Christian experience of his readers. He believed that the first aspect of living worthy of the Gospel was the Philippians’ external relationship to the world by their standing fast and cooperating together to advance the Gospel in the face of opposition (1:27-30). He goes on to address the second aspect of living worthy of the Gospel—an internal unity within the body of the church, and he commands them to be like-minded. With this exhortation Paul more fully explains what he meant by “stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel” (1:27). In order to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel, we have to pursue unity with fellow believers.
Christian unity is impossible without spiritual motivation and divine enablement. Therefore, Paul not only commands the Philippian believers to be like-minded but also provides several reasons. First of all, Paul bases his appeal on a theological premise—the unity among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Paul mentions both Christ and the Spirit plainly, and God the Father is implied in the reference to “any comfort from His love.” Although three distinct persons comprise the Trinity, there is only one God. These three persons experience a perfect unity.
Disunity has destroyed countless teams, companies, churches, and homes. Perhaps you are familiar with a church that has suffered severely from selfish division. The sign in front of the church building professed the Gospel, but the relationships inside failed to apply it. Very few things hinder the advance of the Gospel as much as a church which is not unified.
Thus, the sense of the first clause is “if there are any grounds for exhortation because you are in Christ, as indeed there are . . .” As Christians, they were in a vital union with Christ and this placed obvious obligations on them. They were responsible to heed the orders of Christ as issued by Him either directly during His ministry or through his apostles.
. . . if any comfortI from his love . . .
The second clause, “if any comfort from his love” speaks of God’s consoling love for His people who often face pressure, as did the Philippians.
As sharers in Christ’s life, the Philippians are under an obligation to heed the exhortation (encouragement) of Christ’s apostle to work together in harmony (1 Corinthians 1:10II). For all who are “in Christ” [see bottom of page] are subject to the rule of Christ, and must therefore listen to the word of Christ in order that they may never behave in a way which is contrary to the mind of Christ (v. 5).
The comfort and encouragement provided by love should prompt the Philippians to join hands in common action. Their love for Christ and for their fellow believers (including Paul) ought to impel them to desist from divisiveness in any form.
. . . if any common sharing in the Spirit . . .
Or “any participation in the Spirit” (RSV). As believers in Christ they are all sharers in the same Spirit, who has made them fellow-members of the one body (1 Corinthians 12:13III). This appeal to their spiritual experience is clearly intended to underline the inconsistency of indulging in that spirit of self-assertion which fosters divisions within the church (vv. 3, 4). They must rather seek “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
During their sufferings in Philippi, the believers shared the same spiritual blessings that flowed from their common relationship with the Trinity. The third clause, “if any common sharing in the Spirit” refers to the comfort and encouragement we have as saints “in Christ Jesus” (1:1).
The third clause, “if any common sharing in the spirit” signifies that the Holy Spirit indwells us and brings us into communion with the triune God. The fellowship produced by the Holy Spirit should stimulate the practical exercise of unity. They have been made one by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13III) and thus are partners with Him and with each other. Recognition of this theological truth would find expression in their lives.
. . . if any tenderness and compassion,
The fourth clause, “if any tenderness and compassion,” depicts God’s undeserved and tender compassion for the church, like a mother for her newborn baby. The existence of tenderness and compassion among them would make the unity that was being called for the normal and expected thing.
In a gracious way, Paul is saying to the church, “Your disagreements reveal that there is a spiritual problem in your fellowship. It isn’t going to be solved by rules or threats; it’s going to be solved when your hearts are right with Christ and with each other.” Paul wanted them to see that the basic cause was selfishness, and the cause of selfishness is pride. There can be no joy in the life of the Christian who puts himself above others.
Notice the intense earnestness of these four clauses. The need for unity is so great that exhortation has become appeal.
II. “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)
III. “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body--whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)
2 then make my joy complete by being like-mindedI, having the same loveII, being one in spiritIII and of one mindIV.
then make my joy complete by being like-mindedI,
Although Paul is glad that he can base his appeal to the Philippians on what he knows are the realities of their spiritual experience, his cup of joy will be filled to the brim only if they respond to his urgent call for unity by being “like-mindedI” (of the same mind). Paul commands like-mindedness for the completion of his own joy. Does his command sound selfish? It shouldn’t when we understand God’s overarchingV intent in this letter to the Philippians. For all believers of all time, God put Paul on display as the Christ-like model of joyful Christian maturity. Paul is our paradigmVI—our standard of joy. Joy is focused on God’s glory, so Paul’s joy could not be complete if the church that he dearly loved was not thriving in Gospel unity for Christ’s sake.
Paul so completely identified both with Christ (1:8VII) and with the church (1:7VIII) that his joy was not his alone, and neither was it simply an emotion or feeling. The joy of Paul and of the church was, as he put it, “in Christ Jesus,” nourished by their relationship with each other and by the Spirit.
True spiritual unity, as opposed to mere outward uniformity, depends upon a holy unanimity of thought. Christianity is first and foremost a condition of mind. Hence they cannot work together harmoniously unless they share the same nature. Paul next shows how this “thinking the same thing” must work itself out in the life of the church. First, it involves “having the same love” for one another, as befits those who are loved by the same Savior and who share the same Spirit (v. 1). Secondly, it means “being one in spirit and of one mind.” These are to be taken together in order to provide a “more precise definition of the previously mentioned unity of mind: with harmony of soul enhancing the one sentiment.” As the inner motivation is the mainspring of all activity, the community of believers must share the same point of view if they are to work together in the same cause. Churches are so often upset by people with personality problems that the very idea of working together may seem like an impossible ideal. Such difficulties can be resolved, but only by the way of lowliness which is exemplified by the Lord Himself (vv. 2:3-5IX; 4:2).
I. Like-minded—to think; to ponder; to be of the same mind. Clearly, it is not agreement on all the facts of life. In another context Paul speaks positively of both Christians who eat for God’s glory and Christians who abstain from eating for God’s glory (Romans 14:5-6). When a church today is renovating its auditorium, it is ok to differ on whether the new carpet should be gray or beige as long as God is the One they are most concerned about! Nor does like-mindedness describe a group of believers who all look alike, dress alike, and talk alike. That state is called uniformity. Rather, like-mindedness has to do with the dispositions that foster unity and the decisions we make because of these attitudes.
II. Love—charity; benevolence; brotherly love
III. One accord—united in spirit; harmonious
IV. One mind—to be of one mind is to let the mind of Christ be in you. That permits differences of expressions, differences in gifts, differences in methods of service, even differences in minor directives. We won’t be beating each other on the head because we disagree on these things. If we have the mind of Christ, we will agree on the major statutes of the faith.
V. Overarching ?overall; all-encompassing:
VI. Paradigm?example, model, pattern, standard.
VII. “God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:8)
VIII. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. (Philippians 1:7)
IX. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:3-5)
Question: "What does it mean to be in Christ?"
Answer: Galatians 3:26-28 gives us insight into the phrase “in Christ” and what it means. "In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Paul is speaking to the Christians in Galatia, reminding them of their new identity since they placed their faith in Jesus Christ. To be "baptized into Christ" means that they were identified with Christ, having left their old sinful lives and fully embracing the new life in Christ (Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). When we respond to the Holy Spirit's drawing, He "baptizes" us into the family of God. First Corinthians 12:13 says, "For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink."
?From: Biblia.com by Faithlife