Faith Bible Church of Lake Charles
Unity Through Humility
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  • Unity Through Humility

    Are we working together? Or does our pride get in the way? In today's message, the Apostle Paul gives a very moving encouragement to humbly work together for the cause of Christ. "Others" is the key to this portion of Paul's letter. Why did Jesus die on the cross? For others. Why should we do what do? For others.
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    Sometimes people can rob us of our joy. Paul was facing his problems with people at Rome (Phil. 1:15–18) as well as with people in Philippi, and it was the latter who concerned him the most. When Epaphroditus brought a generous gift from the church in Philippi, and good news of the church’s concern for Paul, he also brought the bad news of a possible division in the church family. Apparently there was a double threat to the unity of the church; false teachers coming in from without (Phil. 3:1–3) and disagreeing members within (Phil. 4:1–3). What Euodia (“fragrance”) and Syntyche (“fortunate”) were debating about, Paul does not say. Maybe they both wanted to be president of the missionary guild or the choir!
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    Paul knew what some church workers today don’t know, that there is a difference between unity and uniformity. True spiritual unity comes from within; it is a matter of the heart. Uniformity is the result of pressure from without. This is why Paul opens this section appealing to the highest possible spiritual motives (Phil. 2:1–4). Since the believers at Philippi are “in Christ,” this ought to encourage them to work toward unity and love, not division and rivalry. In a gracious way, Paul is saying to the church, “Your disagreements reveal that there is a spiritual problem in your fellowship. It isn’t going to be solved by rules or threats; it’s going to be solved when your hearts are right with Christ and with each other.” Paul wanted them to see that the basic cause was selfishness, and the cause of selfishness is pride. There can be no joy in the life of the Christian who puts himself above others.
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    The secret of joy in spite of circumstances is the single mind. The secret of joy in spite of people is the submissive mind. The key verse is: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better [more important] than themselves” (Phil. 2:3). In Philippians 1, it is “Christ first” and in Philippians 2 it is “others next.” Paul the soul winner in Philippians 1 becomes Paul the servant in Philippians 2.
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    It’s important that we understand what the Bible means by “humility.” The humble person is not one who thinks little of himself; he simply does not think of himself at all! (I think Andrew Murray said that.) Humility is that grace that, when you know you have it, you have lost it. The truly humble person knows himself and accepts himself (Rom. 12:3). He yields himself to Christ to be a servant, to use what he is and has for the glory of God and the good of others. “Others” is the key idea in this chapter (Phil. 2:3–4); the believer’s eyes are turned away from himself and focused on the needs of others.
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    The “submissive mind” does not mean that the believer is at the beck and call of everybody else or that he is a “religious doormat” for everybody to use! Some people try to purchase friends and maintain church unity by “giving in” to everybody else’s whims and wishes. This is not what Paul is suggesting at all. The Scripture puts it perfectly: “ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5). If we have the single mind of Philippians 1, then we will have no problem with the submissive mind of Philippians 2.
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    Let’s look this morning at Paul’s declaration and Paul’s exhortation.
    Philippians 2:1–4 NKJV
    1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
    In 1:27 Paul had written about living like citizens of heaven. He now follows that message with a call to show spiritual unity. This unity is possible because of the reality of the four qualities mentioned in verse 1. The “if” clauses, being translations of first-class conditions in Greek, speak of certainties. So in this passage “if” may be translated “since.” Paul wrote here about realities, not questionable things.
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    Paul here piles one phrase on top of another, each beginning with ‘if’. These “ifs” are not be be read as, “there may or may not be…” These are FIRST CLASS CONDITIONAL statements that are assumed to be true from the author’s perspective for his literary purposes. William Hendriksen notes: ‘Paul says “If”, not as if he doubts whether the condition is really true, but simply to emphasize that when the condition is present, the conclusion should also be present.’
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    The first thing we see is...

    Paul’s Declaration

    Philippians 2:1 NKJV
    1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,
    Paul wrote here about realities, not questionable things. Paul appealed on the basis of (a) encouragement from being united with Christ … (b) comfort from His love … (c) fellowship with the Spirit … (d) tenderness and compassion.
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    Consolation” is from a Greek word related to the one Christ used in referring to the Holy Spirit as “the Counselor” (John 14:16; “Comforter,” kjv). It’s mostly used in the form of Encouragement. This first clause is literally, “if there be therefore any encouragement in Christ” Or, “if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ”. This was a gentle appeal from the Apostle Paul to their common experience in Christ. Since each believer had received this work of the Spirit, Paul used it as a basis to appeal for their spiritual unity.
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    In other words, “Have you experienced encouragement in Christ? Evidence that experience by loving one another.”
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    Second, they each had “comfort from His [God’s] love.” God’s love in people’s hearts produces spiritual unity in their lives.
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    Fellowship of the Spirit” is a result of the Spirit’s permanent indwelling ministry (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19). This may refer, however, to fellowship that comes from the Holy Spirit, just as encouragement comes from Christ and comfort comes from love. It can also mean our cooperation with the Holy Spirit as the Spirit produces unity within the body of Christ.
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    Paul also spoke of “tenderness (splanchna; cf. Phile. 7, 20) and mercy.” Your translation may use the term bowels. One of the Spirit’s ministries is to produce within each believer a concern and love for other members of God’s family. This may be received or rejected by a believer, but the Spirit’s work is a reality and is a basis for spiritual unity.
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    The noun rendered “mercy” signifies the outward expression of deep feelings in compassionate yearnings and actions. We could read this phrase as, “if there is any tender mercy and compassion”.
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    The basis of Paul’s four-part declaration is grounded in divine certainties: the Philippians know God’s comfort and salvation in Christ. They have experienced the consolation that Christ’s love for them has brought in their sufferings and dangers. Theirs is a participation, a common sharing, in the Holy Spirit, and they have been blessed through his gracious ministry to their hearts and lives. When God began his good work in their midst through the preaching of the gospel, they were recipients of his tender mercies and compassion. Since they have been blessed with such riches in a magnificent way, let them hear Christ’s exhortation through their beloved apostle.
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    Next comes...

    Paul’s Exhortation

    Philippians 2:2–4 NKJV
    2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
    Verse 2 - Based on what he declared in verse 1, Paul now exhorts his readers to show in practical ways the unity which was theirs in Christ. Their expression of that spiritual unity would make his joy complete. He’s expecting them to be like-minded, have the same love, be one in spirit (sympsychoi), and be one in purpose.
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    Even though he is in prison, Paul is rejoicing in the Lord, but he says that he would rejoice even more if he knew the gospel was working in the lives of the Philippian believers.
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    There had been a little difficulty, as we said before, in the Philippian church—not much, but a little. Paul wants them to be of one mind.
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    To be of one mind is to let the mind of Christ be in you. Or the attitude of Christ. We’ll look into that attitude of Jesus when we get to verse five. That allows differences of expressions, differences in gifts, differences in methods of service, even differences in minor doctrines that we may not be able to definitively prove from Scripture. We won’t be beating each other on the head because we disagree on these things. If we have the mind of Christ, we will agree on the major tenets of the faith. We will be able to work together for the cause of Christ as the body of Christ.
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    Verse 3 - You remember that Paul has mentioned this before. He said that there were some people who were preaching Christ out of envy and strife. Now he says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit”, that’s what the word vainglory means. Nobody uses that word anymore. But they know exactly what we’re talking about when we talk about being conceited. I would say most of the difficulties in the church today are not due to doctrinal differences. They are due to strife and envy. Some people just naturally cause trouble. If we could follow this injunction, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit,” I think it would solve 90 percent or maybe even 100 percent of the problems in churches today.
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    If you are doing something through strife in the church, you had better not do it at all. The same is true if you do things because you expect to be recognized. While it’s nice to be recognized, are we doing what we do in order to be recognized? Do Christians need to be recognized and complimented and commended for everything they do? “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory”—trying to make a name for yourself.
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    “But in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Maybe this was the problem between Euodias and Syntyche. It may be that each felt she was being put down by the other.
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    If this verse were obeyed, I believe it would solve the problems in most of our churches.
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    Verse 4 - “Others”. That is an important word. “Others” is the key to this passage. It is the Christian faith which first made that word others important. Why did Christ come from heaven’s glory to this earth? It was for others. Why should we carry the gospel? For others. To think of others rather than ourselves is having the mind of Christ.
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    Paul explained how humility can be expressed (Phil. 2:4). Instead of concentrating on self, each believer should be concerned for the interests of others in the household of faith (cf. Rom. 12:10).
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    Looking out for our own interests comes naturally, doesn’t it? We don’t need any instruction for that. We are instructed to look out for the interests of others. We are to keep an eye out to discover ways we can help others even when they do not see they need such help. The apostle said in Galatians 6:2: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
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    When we began our study of this letter to the Philippians we said that “joy” is a main theme of Paul. We see here that Paul’s formula for joy stands out in Philippians. It is J (Jesus) O (Others) Y (Yourself). So very often we try to have Paul’s joy while we reverse his formula. It cannot be done. We can’t spell joy by putting the Y first, and we can’t find joy by putting ourselves first.
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    Conclusion:
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    So what’s next? Let’s get it together. Let’s realize this thing we call the church, or the body of Christ, is not about us. It’s about our Savior. It’s about the faith of the Gospel. The gospel is another prevalent theme in this letter. It brings us back to the Great Commission. That’s our one purpose as the church. Everything we do in teaching, training, showing mercy, exhortation, fellowship is to equip us to share the Gospel with a lost and dying world and make disciples. It’s about unity.
      • Philippians 2:1–4NKJV

      • Philippians 2:1NKJV

      • Philippians 2:2–4NKJV

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