A Study of Philippians 2:1-11
Confession Time: I like to be right. I have an opinion on just about everything and I truly, sincerely believe that my opinion is right. When Trey and Lexie and Chris and I went to Germany over Spring Break this last year, my husband pointed this out to me (ever so lovingly). He told me that everywhere we went, I seemed to have an opinion about how people could be doing things better. In the airport, the line was too long so I made a comment about what they could do better to fix that. The driver of the car we were riding in didn’t seem to know quite what they were doing and you better believe I had an opinion about how it should’ve been done. Our schedule got messed up and I had the solution! Until he (ever so lovingly) pointed out my need to have my way all the time, I’d never noticed that I had so many opinions and that I felt the need to express those opinions so often! But ever since that trip, I’ve become increasingly aware of how opinionated I can be and how often I feel entitled to my own way. So for those of you who have had to sit and listen to my rants about how the world could be run better, I apologize! I’m trying to do…BETTER.
The thing is, I know I’m not alone. Most of us have strong opinions about one thing or another. Whether we express them loudly and constantly varies from person to person of course. But most of us struggle on some level with a lack of humility that comes from pride and entitlement.
Paul has some very specific words for the Philippian church on this very topic. Let’s read Philippians 2:1-4. He says “if” there is any encouragement and “if” any comfort from love, etc, but this could’ve been translated as “because there IS”. There IS encouragement in Christ and there IS comfort from love and there IS participation in the Spirit and there IS affection and sympathy. So because all of these things DO exist, verses 3-4 apply! Because of all this, everything we do should be done with vision for others. The crazy thing is that it’s going to go against every natural tendency we have in us- that’s what SIN does!
Considering others as more significant than ourselves goes against every natural tendency in us.
Can you imagine what our churches would be like if we considered other people more significant than ourselves? All of a sudden we would be far less concerned with getting our own way and far more concerned with what is best for the Body of Christ. Can you imagine what our marriages would be like if we considered our husbands needs and interests over our own? What if, the next time you start to get aggravated at your husband for whatever husband-ish thing he has done wrong, what if you stopped to consider his point of view and his interests before you thought of your own? I have a feeling we would all begin to enjoy a whole new level of intimacy and friendship in our marriages if we considered our husbands’ needs before our own. And what if we took the same approach with our children? Our mothers and mothers-in-law? Our co-workers and our friends? Can you imagine if we considered their interests as greater than our own?
Considering others as more significant than ourselves is God’s plan for your life.
You don’t have to pray through this and wonder what God’s will is here. He says DO THIS. And he doesn’t leave us roaming around wondering what on earth that could possibly look like. If you keep reading in 2:5-8, we see the perfect example of someone who did this – Jesus, of course. If ever there was One who put the interests of others before his own, it was our Jesus. Jesus is God. He is fully divine. He didn’t have to come to earth and live as a man, tempted in every way and suffering in every way, even to death on a cross. At any given moment in his thirty-three years, he could’ve said “Enough.” In fact, he could’ve come to earth as the King that he is. Instead he completely emptied himself and took the form of a servant. There was no fanfare here – just a baby in a manger and a humble man teaching the multitudes. He could’ve come to earth as a man who was a King. Instead he came to earth as a man who was a servant. He wanted to show us how it’s done.
But I don’t want to go any farther until we look at one more thing from verse 5. Paul tells the Philippian believers to “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. ”This seems a bit intimidating to me. As Paul is saying that we (the church) should have the same mind, the same love, being in full accord and of one mind, I’m thinking of the believers I know, specifically the ones in my church. The thing is, we just don’t always agree. We have opinions and interests and needs. We don’t always have the same mind, the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. As I consider the conflicts we’ve had as believers, not just in this church but in every church I’ve ever been a part of, I wonder how we can be of one mind when we just don’t agree! And that’s where the mind of Christ comes in. If we seek to have the mind of Christ, meaning that we are intentionally putting the needs of others before our own interests, we will be in full accord and of one mind with other believers who are seeking to have the mind of Christ.
Let me explain a little bit more – First read Ephesians 4:3-6 and 31-32. You simply cannot be of one mind, in one spirit and still have fighting and anger and bitterness among your ranks.
God purposed believers to be of ONE mind, but we mess it up with our selfish ambitions.
We face a problem though when we are willing to consider another believer’s interests above our own, but they aren’t willing to consider anyone else’s interests above their own! What do we do then? This can be in the church, this can be in marriage, this can be in family relationships or parenting. What do we do when we are willing, but the people we’re trying to be ONE with are only thinking of themselves? I’m so glad you asked.
Flip over to Colossians 3:12-15. I have to admit that I was kind of hoping the answer would be that I could just go ahead and plow through with my opinion as long as I felt like I had the mind of Christ! Of course that is the opposite of what I should do. Friends, it’s gonna take compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. It’s gonna take us bearing with one another and forgiving each other and loving each other. I love verse 15 that reminds us to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. And be thankful! Oh yeah, THAT.
God purposed believers to become one through humility, patience, forgiveness and love.
Oh that we would take up the fruits of the Spirit in our lives, empty ourselves and consider others as better than ourselves. What would this world be like? What would our churches and our families and our marriages be like? Pray today that God would do that work in us.