Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)
Read: Philippians 2:1-18
Consider: In today reading from Philippians 2, Paul exhorts the believers in Philippi to be ‘… one in spirit and of one mind’ (Philippians 2:2). The Greek word σύμψυχος translated in the NIV as ‘one in spirit’ has the connotation of being ‘joined in soul’, being in ‘full accord’ and being ‘unanimously’ in agreement in their faith. What Paul is getting at is that there should be no dissent amongst the believers and they should be as one. This reinforces what is said in Psalm 133:1, where we read: How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.
Paul explains that the Philippians’ faith should clearly demonstrate that they share the ‘same love’ (Philippians 2:2). This is something that Jesus himself alluded to when he said: By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35). While this was seen as a defining characteristic of the early church, it should still be clearly evident in the church today. While society today is so ‘me’ orientated, the church should not adopt the world’s standards. Perhaps if we took seriously Paul’s words in Romans 12, we would see transformed churches, as well as believers: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2)
Paul then moves on to encourage the believers to put others before themselves (Philippians 2:3-4). Paul tells the believers that the reason they should show humility to each other is because Jesus is to be their ‘model’ and they should follow his example. He explains that although Jesus was God, he submitted himself to God the Father, took on human form and willingly went to his death on the cross. Paul is not asking the Philippians to be martyrs, but to imitate Christ’s humility in their dealings with each other.
I particularly like how Paul (quoting Deuteronomy 32:5) describes the society within which he and the Philippians lived as ‘… a warped and crooked generation’ (Philippians 2:15). We can identify with this in our time. Imagine for a moment a dark night sky and the stars shining clear and bright. This is what Paul wants us to think of when he says: Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly the word of life (2:15b-16a). Can you see that churches and denominations who do not ‘hold firmly to the word of life’ can no longer shine like stars, but become part of the warped and crooked generation?
Pray: Father, may the witness of believers throughout the world shine like stars in a warped and crooked generation. May those who reject the authority of Scripture, return to accepting and proclaiming your Word faithfully. Amen