Warm Up Before the Hike
The photo above was submitted by Lori who lives in San Antonio while on a hike in Tennessee. She is participating in the hike through Philippians along with friends from her ministry, She Praise. To warm up this week with your group, share a place where you experienced rest and relaxation, whether close by home or far away. We’d love to receive your summer pics of scenery and/or your group. Send to us via instagram, @sacredstoryministries, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
The church in Philippi was a strong, loving, generous, prayerful and theologically sound church. However, even the strongest church must guard itself against disunity. Paul had just encouraged the church to…”let your manner of life be worthy[a] of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27).
In just four verses, Paul gives one of the strongest teachings on unity. He identifies three crucial elements that will build unity: the right motives, the right marks, and the right means.
Christ’s Example of Humility:
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Observation – What does the passage say?
“Participation in the Spirit” also means believers’ fellowship with each other is threaded together by the common hope of eternal life given by the grace of Jesus Christ. Believers’ humility and gratefulness for the Gospel should be the springboard for unity in the body of Christ.
“complete my joy” – Paul’s joy was tied to the unity of believers
“having the same love” – means one-soul, having the same passions, ambitions and desires
“one mind” – to think the same way
“selfish ambition” – strife; people’s pride can push others away creating strife and disunity
“conceit” – pursuit of one’s own glory
Paul encourages believers to “count others more significant than yourselves” which is the ultimate definition of humility
Paul encourages believers to look beyond themselves and onto others
Interpretation – What does the passage mean?
Paul encourages believers to remember what they all have in common: saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. He exhorts the believers to let the Gospel be the basis of their unity. He gives four practical ways to build unity. First, he encourages them to humble themselves by acknowledging Jesus Christ saved all members, not just one. Second, he encourages believers to think the same way (one mind) and serve the same way (same passions, ambitions and desires). Third, he commands them to guard themselves against pride. Lastly, he encourages believers to consider others more important than themselves.
Paul encourages believers to make his joy complete by being unified. He has the same investment and interest in the spiritual well-being of the believers in Philippi as a parent would for a child. In order for the church to stand against persecution, false teachings and spiritual warfare, believers must not tolerate disunity.
Application- How does the meaning of the passage apply to me?
If the enemy wants to deem the Gospel ineffective one of the first places he attacks is the unity of believers. If he can split up the church, he weakens it. This is a great opportunity to look inside ourselves and see if there is any pride that can separate us from others. Pray and ask God to reveal to you if there is pride. God wants to set you free from pride so you can experience a deeper relationship with Him and others.
Secondly, how do you regard yourself compared to others? Humility is not self-deprecating. Humility is lifting others up and wanting the glory of God to shine in them more than we want the glory to shine on ourselves.
During the Winter Olympics, I love watching the couple’s ice skating. I love seeing the male skater lift up the female skater and twirl her around while the audience roars in applause. The male and female skaters are equally important. However, the male skater’s pride is in lifting up the female skater and making her shine. Such is the same with esteeming others over ourselves.
As a licensed counselor, I’m finding more and more people being professionally instructed to cut off relationships. Being of one mind and having the same passions is now called ‘enmeshment’. If we die to ourselves so others shine, we are ‘being taken advantage of’. If we let others win an argument, we are being ‘manipulated’. Friends, guard yourself against such lies. The enemy is now disguising unity as disunity and disunity as unity.
If you discover pride in yourself, confess it to the Lord and change your ways. If you feel you have let pride get in a way of a relationship, consider calling them up and having dinner with them. Encourage them, compliment them and uplift them. You will discover loving selflessly is the key to a joy-filled heart, just like Paul wants.
Scripture Memory and Homework
We are memorizing Philippians 2:1-6. It is one of my favorite passages of the Bible. When you are finding yourselves having a hard time in a relationship, it is a great passage to bring to the forefront of your mind. Work through observation, interpretation, and application for Philippians 2:5-11 over this week.
I also encourage you to pray through Philippians 2:1-4 and ask God to give you the passion and conviction for unity, the humility of Jesus Christ, and a selfless love that can embrace the hardest of hearts.