Summary: Paul points us to the true source of biblical unity.
Sunday, February 17, 2002
During my time at Bible College, the spiritual fad of the day was temperament analysis. Tim Lahaye’s book had just come out and everyone was trying to decide if they were sanguine, melancholic, choleric or phlegmatic. Sanguine was the outgoing person, melancholic was the creative person, cholerics were the drivers and phlegmatics were the laid back people.
There is value to knowing your own tendencies, but the biggest gripe I had for the whole thing was the way it so quickly became an excuse. People would do something inconsiderate and then respond with "Oh that’s the way I am. I’m a choleric."
For example, I come out as a choleric. Yes I know that I look more like a teddy bear, but I definitely have more shark tendencies. It would be easy to say "Oh well, that’s the way I am, people will just have to take me as I am." But as I read my Bible, I find that here is no place for sharks among the people of God. Knowing my tendencies doesn’t give me an excuse for bad behaviour, but shows me what behaviour I have to overcome for the benefit of the kingdom of God.
Overcoming that behaviour is the focus of Paul’s first four verses in chapter two of Philippians.
1. The motivation for unity 2:1
A couple of gripes with the NIV
"Therefore" - ties back to verse 27 - how to conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel
United with Christ = In Christ - saved
These are the motivations for following Paul’s commands
2. The plea for unity 2:2
again building off of verse 27 - stand firm in one spirit
contending as one man for the faith of the Gospel
Like minded- thinking the same thing
3. The means for unity 2:3-4
There are two primary components for unity. There is an objective basis and a subjective basis. Maybe a better way to describe them is an external basis and an internal basis. You can’t have true Biblical unity without both. The external basis for biblical unity is common belief.
Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
4 There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called--
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Many are trying to bring in unity without a common biblical faith. You may have unity, but it is not the unity of the Bible - Christian unity.
In the passage before us, the issue of unity is addressed from the more subjective or internal basis. Even if we believe the same truth, there can be disunity because of our character in holding the truth. In order for us to be unified, we need to reform our character.
A. Destroy selfishness. 3a
do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Selfish ambition - doing it to get ahead personally
vain conceit - doing something to make oneself look better
even church work can be done for wrong motives
- I have always struggled on why someone wants power in the church- what does it get you in the end?
B. Develop humility and selflessness 3b-4
Instead of looking out for number one, we need to look out for others first.
How are you going to respond if you don’t get your way?
What are you going to do if things aren’t fair - for you or you’re loved ones?
Are you willing for others to get the glory for something you have done?
Are you willing to work quietly behind the scenes instead of being up front.
Are you a shark or a teddy bear when it comes to dealing with other people?