Weds 25th October Philippians 2:1-11
Meditation on Philippians 2:1-11
Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death -
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
These verses contain the very heart of the good news about Jesus.
Paul often uses the word ‘therefore’ as he starts a new section. This takes us back to the previous verses. In this case he was reminding us about the importance of living a life that is worthy of the gospel. Then he links that with the message of the gospel as he points us to Jesus.
- CAUSE AND EFFECT Verses 1-2
Paul asks some rhetorical questions, giving the answer in each case. The cause is a catalyst, an action that gives rise to an effect, a reaction, an outcome.
- Is there any encouragement in being united with Christ? Turn this round – the cause is ‘being united with Christ’. Just stop for a moment and think about how this encourages us.
- by grace we have been saved – salvation and redemption
- our sins are gone – justification
- access – we have direct access to the throne of heaven as we bring our praises and our prayers
- security – nothing can separate us from the love of Christ
- hope – whatever the days, weeks, months, years ahead may bring, we know that Jesus is with us every step of our journey
- a home in heaven – we will be forever with the Lord.
The outcome of being united with Christ is that we are encouraged.
- Is there any comfort from His love? Turn this round – the cause is ‘His love’. Just stop again and think about how this comforts us.
- God is love
- God loves us
- God’s love is unconditional
- God shows His love for us when He gave His one and only Son
- God loves us and welcomes us into His family
And Paul writes to the Corinthians and tells them that God is ‘the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort’. (2 Corinthians 1:3).
The outcome of being loved by God is to bring us comfort.
- Is there any common sharing in the Spirit? Turn this round – the cause is ‘the Spirit’. Stop again and think about what this means.
- Common sharing in the Spirit – this is the unity that the Spirit brings. Another translation of ‘common sharing’ is ‘fellowship’, taken from the word ‘koinonia’. When Paul ends his second letter to the Corinthian Christians he writes, ‘…and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.’
(2 Corinthians 13:14)
The Spirit lives within us and He longs for that unity among the people of God. That doesn’t mean that we agree on every issue. It does mean that we do all we can to allow the Spirit to enable us to have fellowship with each other.
The outcome of the work of the Spirit in our lives is fellowship with fellow Christians.
- Are there signs of tenderness and compassion? Turn this round – the cause is ‘tenderness and compassion’. Again, stop and think what this results in.
We are to show these characteristics to each other as working out these gifts. Again, Paul writes to the Corinthians about this. ‘God can testify how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus’
(Philippians 1:8). When he writes to the Colossian Christians he expands on these characteristics. He writes, ‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’ (Colossians 3:12)
The outcome of showing tenderness and compassion is ‘the unity of the saints through the bond of peace’. (Ephesians 4:3)
- Paul sums up what he has already written by making a personal appeal. Take all these cause-and-effect characteristics and ‘make my joy complete’.
- be like-minded – that doesn’t mean we all have to think the same, speak the same or be the same
- have the same love for each other
- be one in spirit
- be of one mind
These speak of deep and abiding friendship and love for our fellow Christians.
- BE CAREFUL NOT TO ROCK THE BOAT Verse 3-4
Paul is aware of human nature so he just, in passing, mentions that we need to be on our guard against the temptations that will come our way.
- no room for selfish ambition
- no room for vain conceit
- not looking to our own interests
Whatever gifts God has given to each of us, we need to be careful to use them to glorify His name and not ours.
He then counteracts these with alternative positives.
- valuing others above ourselves
- look to the interests of others
- THE EXAMPLE GIVEN US TO FOLLOW Verses 5-11
All the characteristics that Paul has mentioned in the opening verses are seen in the Lord Jesus. And these should help us in our relationships with others.
Jesus is God but He didn’t use this to His own advantage.
Here, in these next few verses, is the very heart of our Christian faith as we think about all that the Lord Jesus has done for us.
- He made Himself ‘nothing’. He didn’t give up His deity but He laid aside His glory. Hear Him praying, as John records it in John 17:5. “Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”
Paul writes to the Corinthians with a different thought – ‘For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that through His poverty you might become rich.’ (2 Corinthians 8:9)
- He became a servant – ‘Jesus said,” For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.”’ (Mark 10:45)
- He was made in human likeness. John records this in the opening chapter of His gospel – ‘The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.’ (John 1:14)
- He humbled Himself – verse 7 spells this out. ‘He made Himself nothing.’
- He became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. To quote a much-loved song from the Hillsong collection (2015):
‘I cast my mind to Calvary
where Jesus bled and died for me’
I see His wounds, His hands, His feet,
my Saviour on that cursed tree.’
But that wasn’t the end as many people thought then and many today think that as well.
- He rose from the dead
- He was exalted to heaven
- His Name is above every name
- He is acknowledged as King of kings and Lord of lords
- Every knee will one day bow before Him
- And, in all this, God will be glorified
This is Jesus and we are called to follow Him and His example.
Hallelujah, what a Saviour!