This week we are delving into Philippians chapter 2, and trying to pull out of it what we can learn today all these years later. There is still so much wisdom in this letter that we can put into practice in our lives.
Philippians 2: 1-30
1 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;
7 rather, 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.
Do Everything Without Grumbling
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Timothy and Epaphroditus
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honour people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.
Philippians 2 is all about unity; it’s chapter that Paul has written very carefully to the church in Philippi. He starts by encouraging the church in Phillipi to try and see things from other people’s perspective, and to value others above themselves. Paul isn’t saying that people will always be right, and you will always be wrong because that wouldn’t make sense, but what he is saying is that you should never force your own thoughts onto someone else, instead listen to their thoughts too. Of course Paul’s ultimate goal would be for all people to have the same focus, which is Jesus. If all the people in the church were focussed on Jesus, then they would have no problem in all sharing one another’s thoughts. No one in the church should be doing things for their own interests, but instead they should be working together for the sake of Jesus, for the sake of the Gospel. I know that all over the world, and in this country, you will have heard / read about people’s negative experiences with church; but that is exactly what Paul is warning against here in Philippians 2. If we could all open ourselves up to value other above ourselves, to put Jesus as our focus at the forefront of our thinking then we would have a welcoming church, a loving church, and church that shares one mind. A safe church. I think more and more people in our world could benefit from reading these words of Paul’s.
Paul continues his letter with a poem (verses 6-11). This Poem as pretty much adopted as the early church’s declaration of faith who Jesus was and is. It’s amazing when you read it and break it down. If you have ever struggled to understand who Jesus is; and how it all worked, then give this section another read.
Jesus who is equal to God, didn’t have his divine nature taken away from him, instead he chose to become obedient to the nature of a human, even to the point where he could die. At which point God exalted him; so that every person might get the opportunity to know Him, and know what he did.
It’s amazing to think about (in my opinion). Jesus was with God in the beginning, they were equal, they were the same; but because of His love for us, Jesus came down to earth and went through pain and suffering, so they we today, 2000+ years later, could be set free from evil; that we might get the opportunity to spend forever in heaven with him. That’s true love.
Paul continues encouraging the believers to do everything without grumbling. This is to further his point on unity; to be one church. United. If we are to gamble and complain all the time, we aren’t on the same page as those in our church. If we have concerns, if we have worries, or questions, we should be free to ask them, but not to grumble behind the scenes; that leads to a negative attitude. We need to remain strong and united in out faith, and in our church.
The last section of this chapter Paul is letting the Philippians know his intent. He will send this letter with Epaphroditus, and he will then stay in Philippi, his home area; he has served the church, and served Paul since his visit, and since he was unwell Paul thinks it better that he returns home.
Timothy, who is like Paul’s son, in the sense that he has followed him and learnt from him, will pick up Paul’s role now he’s in prison (as was the custom of a father and son in those days). Timothy will head back to Philippi to teach them and care for them once again, and bring any news back to Paul; but Pau’s hope is that he will be freed, and he will get to join Timothy in Philippi to be with them once again.
Lord, help me to be a united part of the church. Help me to put you as the focus of my life, and help me to go about my life without grumbling; but instead valuing others above myself. Help me to following Paul’s teaching as I grow in faith of you. Amen.
Sum it up
Paul urges the Philippians to have a united front; to be a united church with Jesus as their main focus not personal progression.
This week; take a look at what you value as most important to you. Does that have Jesus at the front? Are you valuing others above yourself? If not; what can you do to change that?