Have This Mind Among Yourselves
Philippians 2:1-11 – Philippians: Life Together
Transfiguration Sunday – February 11, 2018 (am)
We come today to one of the most familiar passages in Paul’s whole letter to the Philippians. In fact, it’s among the most familiar in the NT. This text gives us a look at the work of the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf from a unique angle. Where Joh.1, for instance, gives us a deeper appreciation of the miracle of the second Person of the Trinity becoming a man, Phi.2 helps us gain insight into Jesus’ humility, both in His incarnation and in His crucifixion. And it calls us to live in that same humility. Let’s break this text into three parts.
Our Calling to Like-hearted Humility – 1-4
If last week we heard Paul calling the Philippians to live their life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (1:27) in their community, before the eyes of those who were agitated toward retaliation against them because their citizenship… in heaven so clearly took precedence over the highly treasured citizenship in the Roman Empire, today we hear him calling them to live their life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ within their Christian community, within the church. And, in essence, that means: 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Imagine this actually characterizing the church: do nothing to promote or showcase your own abilities. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. But our calling here actually gets even richer than this.
On the heels of his call to likeminded, like-hearted, cooperation and courageous striving for the advance and defense of the gospel, their courage itself authenticating the eternal blessings and judgments of the gospel (1:27), Paul opens his next thought by drawing on the sweetness of their shared experience in Christ in almost poetic fashion: synonymous parallelism (1) followed by inverted parallelism (2) followed by a double expression of antithetical parallelism (3-4). And all of this leads into the hymn in vv.5ff. Paul is in rare form! And clearly he wants to see these Philippians’ hearts stirred and moved toward oneness in Christ!
Let’ walk through these verses quickly. 1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy in your fellowship with one another, in your gospel partnership (1:3), your church life—and surely there is—then, 2 complete my joy, says Paul —I’ve already told you of my joy (1:4, 18); now bring it to a boil while I sit here in this Roman prison—by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Paul’s fourfold introduction in synonymous parallelism (1), listing the blessed virtues of their gospel partnership, is now matched by a fourfold outcome stated in a chiasm, in inverted parallelism (2), ABB’A’: A … being of the same mind, B having the same love, B’ being in full accord and A’ of one mind. I want you to love, to be devoted to, the same thing, Paul says! He’s not telling them they have to hold all the same opinions on everything (Fee 185). He’s telling them he wants them committed to the same thing, namely, the gospel of Christ, to their mission! That is what will harness everyone’s selfish ambition and conceit (3) and subjugate it to the common best interests (4) of all. That’s what will enable them to (stand) firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, … not frightened in anything by (their) opponents (1:27-28).
He wants their life together to be marked by this shared sacred courage (Walker) that’s rooted in the gospel. He wants them to do as Christ did, to treat one another as Christ treated them.
Our Equipping for Like-hearted Humility – 5-8
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. I’m reminded of Col.3:1niv Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Since you are joined with Christ by faith, set your minds and hearts on Christ such that your selfish ambition and conceit are curbed and your disposition toward your brothers and sisters in Christ is one of humble like-heartedness.
Treat one another the way Christ has treated you. Set aside your own best interests as He has set aside His—6 … though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, a thing to be used to His own advantage, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself yet again by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross—a cursed death according to the law (Gal.3:13; cf. Deu.21:23). Yet, Jesus did this for our salvation, for our citizenship… in heaven to be established. If this was His disposition toward us, what should be ours toward one another?
So, with this in mind, let’s go back for a few moments to our calling in this passage—our calling to likeminded, like-hearted humility. What does it look like for us to engage one another with the mind we gain by faith in Christ? What does it look like to have the same mind, … the same love, being in full accord and of one mind? What does it look like when we do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility to count others in this body as more significant than (ourselves)? It doesn’t look like complete uniformity. It doesn’t mean we have to hold the same view on everything. In fact, one of the best ways to discern whether we truly have the same mind, … the same love, is to see how we treat one another when we hold a different view on something we believe to be very important, even doctrine!
On the one hand, being of the same mind, having the same love, means we are unified in heart and mind on an even deeper level than our differences. If we’re trusting in Christ alone for our salvation, our inclusion in the family of God, our identity in Christ, runs even deeper than our personal sense of unity in Him. We may hold different views on some point of doctrine—say, how the last days will play out, the ordering of end-times events—and yet, our identity as Christ-followers unites us on an even deeper level than we are divided. Just like in a family where we can have disagreements—even deep ones of several sorts—and yet still live in the same house, eat at the same table, and even love one another!
On the other hand, being of the same mind, having the same love, means we experience community in all areas of real life, even those that don’t seem to have much at all to do with our doctrinal beliefs or our gospel mission. We look out for one another’s best interests across the board just because we’re united in Christ forever.
- We grieve with Tim & Linda Kelly at this week’s news of a tumor in the brain of their teenaged son, Seth. We will pray for him as if he were our own.
- We stand together when we get dumped on with snow! Some men among us will go to the homes of women to clear their driveways. Or they’ll gather here at Church to do the same thing.
- Hubble Middle School has a cadre of young ladies from GCD on their basketball teams. And these parents will rarely go to pick up their daughters from practice without asking if there’s anyone else they need to get while they’re here.
- Last week Jean and I were both battling a nasty little respiratory bug, and one of our church neighbors called at random to see if they could pick up some dinner for us on their way home.
Our lives are intertwined, interdependent. We’re unified by the same mind, the same love and that oneness shows itself in real life as a humble, self-sacrificial love for one another that runs deeper than mere human love. It will stand firm even if tested by persecution. My neighbor has helped me shovel several times. We talk while we work. But he gets nervous whenever the gospel is mentioned. And if there were some legal sanction against shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk, I’m sure he’d never help me again. That the difference: the same mind, the same love of the gospel, born of the the Spirit, will endure persecution, and even be strengthened by it. This like-hearted humility reflects our citizenship… in heaven that can’t be removed or muted.
Our Celebration in Like-hearted Humility – 9-11
And it will eventually be rewarded in the presence of God just as Christ’s humility has been rewarded. He humbled Himself to enable our salvation. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. His humbling brought exaltation. His suffering produced glory. And He is now enthroned as King in a new and unique way as a result.
This passage is describing our ultimate and eternal celebration in like-hearted humility, worshiping the One Who has enabled it in us, the One Who has accomplished our salvation and granted us eternal citizenship… in heaven. Yet in addition to that, we’re also being reminded, reassured, that just as Jesus’ humbling of Himself is rewarded by God, so will ours be. In a passage from Jam.4 where setting aside of personal differences is also in view, we read: 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God, just as Jesus did. Resist the devil, again, just like Jesus, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. … 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. Jesus Himself said: Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Mat.23:12).
So, what we’re seeing in Jesus here in Phi.2 is not just His exaltation by the Father, central and primary though that is. We’re also seeing the reassurance of our own exaltation on the far side of our humility in fulfillment of His promises to us. Just keep in mind that our exaltation, like everything else in all creation, is ultimately for the exaltation of Christ, and the magnification of God’s glory.
Our calling to this like-hearted humility, my friends, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel without fear (1:27-28), lies at the center of what it means to live in this world as citizens of the next—to live in a in a manner… worthy of the gospel of Christ. And the best news is that this mind—this strengthening of our shared sacred courage (Walker), this slaying of our selfish ambition and prideful conceit (3) toward being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind (2) with all that brings with it—is (ours) in Christ Jesus. It comes to us with the gospel. It isn’t gained by the strength of our will or the resilience of our determination. It’s gained by the same humility and repentance and faith by which we received this humble, faithful, exalted, glorious Christ as Savior, Lord, and King!
Let’s now celebrate his body and blood which were sacrificed for us.