By Heather Tabers
When I study instructional passages of Scripture, I love to look at these three concepts: What, Why, and How. Let’s use these concepts to look at Philippians Chapter 2.
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
I love that in the first two verses of this chapter, Paul opens up a sermon on unity with one simple if/then statement. IF there is any encouragement (help, exhortation, counsel) in Christ, IF there is any fellowship (partnership) of the Spirit, IF any affection (the Greek’s strongest word for compassionate love) and compassion, THEN we are to be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. IF we are blessed with encouragement, help, exhortation, counsel, fellowship, partnership, affection, compassion, and love, THEN we need to be united.
To break it down, IF God is compassionate towards you, THEN you need to share that same compassion with your brothers and sisters.
Paul offers no exception to this rule, only further encouragement to strengthen the bond among Christians. In one sentence, he gives us the What of the passage: Be united. Now, the Why- Why is it so important for Christians to be united? Why is it so important that we be of one mind, one love, one spirit, one purpose?
Because God chose to be united with us.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
God, in all His perfection and righteousness and holiness, came to earth in the form of a lowly man through His Son, Jesus. Despite being sinless, He obeyed the Father and allowed Himself to be crucified horrifically in our place. The most compassionate love ever displayed was bestowed from a perfect Creator to a sinful creation, all for the sake of being united. Sin no longer separates me from God. He bridged that gap on the cross so that I can be His for all of eternity. That’s the Why-because Christ chose to be united with us.
But how we can be of one mind, one love, one spirit, and one purpose with all Christians? We’re so different!
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Putting others before ourselves does not usually come naturally, this is why Paul breaks it down for us. To be united in the body of Christ as one, we need to put away our selfish habits and conceited ways. We need to stop thinking that our needs and wants are more important than someone else’s. We need to look for opportunities to bless others- not just the others we want to bless, but all others. That’s the How in this lesson- choosing to humble ourselves in unity with one another, just as Christ did for us.
Who in my life do I lack unity with?
How can I humble myself and seek to put that person’s needs before mine?
What would this world be like if Jesus had put His needs before ours?
Lord Jesus, thank You for the humility and sacrifice You demonstrated on the cross. You put Your glory aside and chose to die for me, because of Your deep love for me, even when I was far from You. Thank You, Jesus. In light of Your love and Your sacrifice, I choose to surrender my pride and my wants, my needs. I choose to love others above myself. I know I can’t do it on my own, but only by the power of the Holy Spirit. Open my eyes to the people around me who need to be loved and served today. Amen.
Heather Tabers is the wife of a wounded warrior and the mother of five children. She is also currently a full time student, a specialty cake baker, and a volunteer with the VA Public Relations office. She writes about her life and her faith to encourage other women on her blog, Wives of War.