Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
A STRONG CHURCH
- The Philippians’ Church was a strong church. When a church is strong, it always has a vision. It is always working out some strategy to carry forth the Gospel. A strong church launches ministry after ministry. A strong church is not complacent. A strong church is vibrant with things going on that will give glory to God and touch the lives of believers and nonbelievers alike. A strong church has people in its midst that are always busy doing and going and helping, and inviting, and listening and caring. A strong church is an active church.
- In a strong church there is great need for unity. With many different ideas and things going on there will always be people with divergent ideas and pet projects. Unity must be the goal of all involved. That unity only comes by Christ dwelling in us richly. There are seven traits in these first four verses of Philippians 2 that will hold the church together and keep it unified.
- Fellowship in the Spirit
- Concern for one another’s joy
- Humility or lowliness of mind
- Controlling self-interest or concentration upon oneself
TRAITS TO UNITY
- Consolation – In this passage the word means encouragement, comfort, solace, exhortation, and strengthening believers to be one in spirit and busy about the ministry of His church. Christ wants no murmuring, no grumbling, disturbance, or weakening of the unity within the church. The Spirit of Christ in us is to take the disturbed or upset person and console, comfort, encourage and strengthen them. Not only are we to help the individual that needs consoling or comforting, but we are to allow that same comfort, strength, and encouragement of Christ to flow through us when we are in need of comfort, encouragement or strength. Just imagine the spirit of unity that would prevail in a church if all the members would let the consolation of Christ course through them. There would be no murmuring, grumbling, disturbance – no disunity whatsoever.
John 14:18 – “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
1 Thessalonians – “Therefore comfort each other, and edify one another, just as you are also doing.”
“Isaiah 40:1 – Comfort you, comfort you my people, says your God.”
- Love – There is a comfort of love that is in Christ. The love of Christ stirs a person to keep the unity with other believers. The word used here for love (agape) is the kind of love that is selfless and sacrificial. It is the kind of love that loves a person even if he does not deserve to be loved, when he is utterly unworthy of being loved. It is the love of Christ, the love which He showed when He gave and sacrificed Himself for us. We did not deserve it and were utterly unworthy of such love, yet Christ loved us despite all. Imagine the spirit of unity that would exist within a church if every member would let the love of Christ flow though them. There would be no bitterness, anger, or strife – no action that would hurt another. Even if the person was as wrong as could be and deserved the most drastic punishment that could be given, the church’s members would sacrifice and give themselves for that person. This is the answer to unity, the Lord’s spirit of love! How desperately the church needs its members to let the love of Christ flow through them to each other.
John 13: 34-35 – “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.”
Romans 12:9 – “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”
1 Thessalonians 3:12 – “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.”
- Fellowship in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit works mightily in the person who has trusted Jesus Christ as his Lord. He enters the heart and life of the believer to comfort, guide, teach, equip, and use him as a witness for Christ. The Holy Spirit creates a spiritual union between the new believer and other believers. He melts and molds the heart of the new believer to other believers. He attaches all their lives together, and they become one in life and purpose. They have a joint life sharing their blessings and needs and gifts together – all focused upon their Lord and His purpose. The church and the believers are to have the same mind. There are to be no discordant elements whatsoever. There are to be no differences, no gossip, rumors, or cliques, nothing that would tamper with or disturb the fellowship of the Spirit in the church.
- Compassion – Compassion is a must. Compassion is the same trait that caused Jesus to reach out to us. The compassion of Christ flowing through us will cause us to reach out to those who have been hurt, to those who are different, to those who withdrew, to those who have been disturbed, to those who have been critical. Compassion will stir us to reach out to others.
Romans 15:1 – “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”
Galatians 6:2 – “Bear one anther’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
- Joy – The believers in a church are to be consumed with joy and to be concerned for each other’s joy. Joy brings unity to a church quicker than any other trait. Joy is always disturbed if there is criticism, dissatisfaction, grumbling, murmuring, cliques, opposition, and a host of other divisive negatives. We are to worship, plan, organize, program, build, staff, finance, minister, and serve in the joy of Christ. The only way we can do that is to be like-minded, to have the same love, to be of one accord, to be of one mind.
John 15:11 – “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”
- Humility (Lowliness of Mind) – A strong and active church will always have two problems to deal with – rivalry and empty glory. Some people just seem to want to struggle with others. They simply are not mature in the Lord; therefore they give in to gossip about differences, jealousy, envy, desire for position, desire for recognition, opposition, loving flattery, forming cliques. If they do not get their way or what they want, they fight against the church or other members. The result is disunity and divisiveness, one of the most terrible crimes within the church.
James 3:14 – “But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.”
Proverbs 20:3 – “It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.”
2 Timothy 2:14 – “Of these things put them (the church) in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.”
2 Timothy 2:24 – “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.”
- Some are going to seek glory within the church. The Scriptures call it vainglory, which means empty glory. Some just want attention, recognition, position, flattery, praise, and honor. They want people seeking their advice, counsel, and opinion.
Matthew 23:12 -”And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
John 5:44 – “How can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?”
- The church must control self interest. The members must quit looking out for their own ambition, desire for acknowledgment, for honor. They must quit worrying about rather or not they are ignored, overlooked, or neglected. Believers are to concentrate upon Christ and his ministry to people and reaching the world with the glorious gospel of salvation. They are not to be focused on self. Every believer is needed to reach the lost and lonely, the shut-ins and helpless, the hungry, the cold, the sinful, the doomed of his community, city, country, and world.
Matthew 19:21 – “Jesus said unto him, If you would be perfect, go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come follow me. “
Matthew 25:43 – “I was a stranger, and you took me not in; naked, and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not.”