“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, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
Philippians 2: 1-2
Philippians 1-2 (Psalm 11)
This is a letter of encouragement and thanksgiving, coupled with a call to remain united. Paul had helped start the Church in Philippi, a town full of veteran Roman soldiers as this was a Roman colony. It was a commercial centre due to its history as a mining location. Paul had personally faced much persecution there and illegal imprisonment; the Church was now facing the same (Acts 16) (1: 29-30).
In this shared experience there clearly was a bond and good relationship with Paul; the Church had sent Epaphroditus to care for Paul. His letter overflows with love for them. And there is joy! In these opening chapters we see joy in: prayer; mercy; seeing the Gospel preached; faith; in news of a loved one; and even in suffering…..even joy that the gospel is preached by people with false motives, because it IS being preached. Paul then demonstrates an incredible conviction of mindset; for to him, to live is Christ, to die is gain (1: 21). Whilst imprisoned and possibly facing death he would be happy to live to serve Christ and bless others; or to die and be fully with Christ, WOW! He explains that, for the Church and himself, they both have been granted the privilege of belief in Christ and suffering for Him.
This should lead to a sense and reality of unity in Christ. Jesus being the source of comfort and encouragement, dwelling within them by His Spirit and so bringing about a oneness of mind and purpose (2: 1-4). The encouragement then is to imitate Christ’s attitude of obedience, humility, self-sacrifice and love (2: 5-11). In this unity and Christ-like living the signs of salvation will be present in witness and growth; the Church and individual must continually mature (2: 12-18).
Suffering is a reality of life. Often we are the cause of our own discomfort, sometimes it is others, and sometimes circumstances beyond our control. Whatever the situation, we have God’s reassurance that He will use it for our good (Romans 8: 28). In this letter we see Paul and the Church suffering because of their faith. This actually strengthens their faith, unity and amazingly promotes joy. They grasped the overriding priority and reality of eternity with Christ. They understood what they faced in light of this truth. The encouragement then for us is to mirror their attitude and mindset. In doing so we will be imitating Jesus Himself (as described above). Our motive is for unity with Christ, and one another, through and in His Spirit. If this seems a step to far or simply too hard, be encouraged; God will finish His work in us (1: 6), and God works in us to act according to His will and purpose (2: 13). Jesus has gone before us and will walk with us every step of the way AND we have each other.
The Question of Application
Read 2: 1-4. What false motives need surrendering to Christ (3-4) what genuine motives need enhancing (1-2)?
And this is our prayer: that our love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that we may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God. Amen
From Philippians 1: 9-11
The Servant King by Graham Kendrick
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.