Philippians 2:1-11 ESV 1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 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 by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 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.
Let’s pray. Fathers as we quiet our hearts before you, this morning, I ask that you would give us the humility of Jesus Christ, that’s in this passage.
We thank you for a savior that’s so worthy of our worship, And so worthy of our imitation, he deserves all our glory and all of our praise Lord, and I pray that you would bring glory to Your name today As we look into your word here, I pray this in your precious name.
There was a famous passage in James Chapter Four, one I’ve brought up oftentimes in my preaching, it’s one I bring up oftentimes as well in my counseling that shows us where fights come from, two people want something and each won’t allow the other to have what they want, and so they fight in quarrel and first it starts with a question, it says, “Where do wars and fights come from among you, is it not this that your passions are at war within you, you desire and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel?” And then a second, he actually raises the stakes and says It’s not just fighting in quarreling, it’s actually committing murder. We fight when we don’t get the thing that we want, we become willing to sacrifice our relationships for a preference, we become willing to sacrifice our friendships for an opinion, we become willing to sacrifice church family, even our family at home for something petty that could easily be set aside for the good of the relationship, but instead, we’ve decided that it’s worth the relationship and worth the hurt and worth the murder to make it an issue to fight over.
And the reality is, Redeemer family, opportunities are abundant to fight. Amen? It’s the reasons why, it’s the reason why churches split over carpet color, if you’ve gone a church for any amount of time you’ve heard of that, it’s the reason why Aunt so and so won’t come to family reunions, it’s the reason why that office or that workplace has such a high turnover rate. This is never truer than in difficult times, when a difficult time hits me, I am gruffest and shortest to people around me, anyone else? I am most likely to hurt those around me when I go through a difficult time.
As I’ve said before, hurt people, hurt people. Our church has hit some trials in this last year, the last couple of years, the political season over the last few months has been a time of stress for us in our country, covid-19 adds increasing burdens, not only with the opinion of what we should do about it, but with the stress that puts on our individual lives to quarantine, to take care of kids, to work from home and a number of other things, and all of those things together, in addition to the personal struggles that you have that I didn’t just list mean opportunities are abundant for you to become frustrated and then to take that out on other people… That’s what’s happening in Philippi and with Paul in the passage that was just read.
We don’t know a lot, but we do know about this point, this time was right before the severe persecution of the Christian church started, and the church knew it was coming, they felt it was coming. It started with Paul here in prison. Now, can you imagine knowing that persecution might be coming, getting a letter in the mail from the guy who planted your church, or a guy who had a significant impact on your church, I should say, and in it… You read and you learn, Oh, he’s in prison. Where would your mind go on my next… Are we next… Are they… After all, his churches now, are we gonna be in prison too? On top of that, they were facing the constant pressure of the Jewish leaders to compromise the Gospel, and this is a book partially devoted to telling the Philippians commanding the Philippians don’t compromise that gospel. And in the middle of all of those things, we know of at least two in this church… To women who were fighting, chapter 4 and verse 2, I intrigue Euodia and I treat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes.
I ask you true companion. I think that word is (original word). It’s an interesting word, it might be the actual name of the person, it might be a title or it just might be a phrase here, he’s urging, probably the one who would read this letter to take charge in health, Euodia and Syntyche to be united.
Help these women who have labored side by side with me in the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of the fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life. They’re fighting had reached Paul’s ears hundreds of miles away, and that was before the time of Twitter and email and Facebook, it’s not like a Euodia was posting on her Facebook account some passive aggressive comment about Syntyche, all likelihood, these two represented not just their own fight, but in Paul’s mind, the… Any fighting that was happening within the church and broadly any church who might read this letter later, and that includes redeemer here, and I wanna point out to you that he is commanding them not to war over petty things, and here, these two women inmates infamously, get recorded in the canon of scripture, because apparently they were fighting about, we don’t know what, but we know that at some point in the past, they had been side by side with Paul laboring for the spread of the Gospel, we know that. And we also know that at this point, at this moment, something had broken down… This is the reason why Paul appeals in Philippians Chapter 2, Verse 2, to his own joy He says, Complete my joy. I love that. I think it’s amazingly bold of Paul to say that it’s almost selfish, if you’re sitting in a counseling session and two people are worrying, Do you dare say, Hey, it would make me a lot happier if you guys would knock it off, but yet that’s where Paul goes and I think it’s because Paul knows that he had had such union with them, such an amazing jointed ministry together, and he’s begging them, Look, we had fought together for the faith, and now you’re Waring please. Fulfill my joy hundreds of miles away, sitting in a dark dank pit in the ground, in all likelihood was his jail, sitting in that dark dank pit in the ground, fulfill my joy, fill up my joy by allowing me to hear a report that you… To set aside petty differences and you united again around the gospel of Jesus Christ, please fulfill that joy. I’m gonna plead with you to ensure that you’re doing the same thing if you’re here today, or if you’re following along at home today.
I’m gonna invite you to do the same thing. Here’s your big idea for this sermon… Sacrifice to unify. Sacrifice to unify. You might notice we were gonna continue going in Exodus, but I felt inappropriate to address this issue this week, and maybe over the next couple of weeks, we will finish Exodus eventually, Lord willing, sacrifice everything except the Gospel and your own personal holiness, to unify the church body, to unify yourself with other believers who aren’t in this church body, and to live peaceably among others in the world, sacrifice to unify. Pauls plea inspired by God to the Philippians into redeemer 2000 years later is gonna include four different parts in this chapter two section, the first part will be an appeal, the second part will be a command, and that command will have three parts, the third part will have be an example, and that will have five parts, and then the final is a promise, a promise. So we’re gonna start, we’re gonna start with an appeal, look at the first few…
First verse- So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete me, my joy by being of the same mind.
If there is any encouragement in Christ. One of the early things that I’ll do in counseling people who are struggling with conflict is I will try to help them find common ground, if it’s a marriage, I will encourage them to remember the good times, they might even have to write out some good times for homework, and then come back and share them with one another, if it’s friends who are fighting, I might beg of them, Hey, don’t you remember the way you guys used to minister together or you used to do this together? Here, Paul follows a very same strategy and he says, Look, if you guys have any common… And then he lists three things, the first is comfort from love…
I’m sorry. Encouragement in Christ. Encouragement in Christ, that word encouragement in Christ is like a catch-all word in the word of God, it is the word para places you guys say paralysis, paralysis is literally the noun form for the verb that means to call alongside of… It’s somebody who walks next to you and calls to you for encouragement, it’s A word that often use of encouragement or comfort, and the old KJV, the consolation we would say consoling today, it’s that person who comes alongside and where is that? Encouragement found, it’s in Christ. And so if you together share any common comfort from the fact that you’re in Christ, find that unity, find it. The second one is a comfort from love, this is the only time that this word is used in the Bible, but it means comfort… A takes a real deep study to read that and study that… Any comfort, but where does that comfort come from from love. Where do we find our comfort, it’s Certainly first and foremost from the love of God for us, He calls us as His children, all those who believe in him have the comfort of being adopted into his family, but It’s also… I think the idea here is not just a love from God to us, but it’s a shared love, and this is what John the Apostle does with it, he begs God, he praise to God that all of his disciples may be united together in His love with the father, so it’s this big old like room of love that we all sit in together.
Do you share that love with one another? The third one is any participation or fellowship in the spirit, the word here literally means… It’s a hard word to translate coins… A hard word to translate, participation is really good, fellowship is good, except for many churches, what they have in mind, from the word fellowship is like a potluck dinner, and that certainly can include fellowship, but that’s not this word, it’s not just shooting the breeze about the weather, and you see that because the fellowship is found in the Spirit here, it’s a bond that goes deeply in their souls that they have, and like we talked about in our memory verse today, a down payment of the Spirit in them, that they have God’s presence in them, and they share that together. And then the final one is any affection in any Symphony, that’s the catch hell. Look, if there’s even a shred of affection that you have for one another, a shred of sympathy that you have for one another, that’s the completion of the appeal, these are all very intimate words… Yeah. Who can comfort you except for somebody who’s close to you, who can share in your sense of the Spirit’s presence in your life, except for those who you’ve bonded with, you have a common bond that supersedes any difference you might have, any light that you might have endured why then is it our default mode to focus on our differences, why do we focus on our opinions, on our preferences, on our selfish desires, when the bond that we have in Christ is so much better and so much deeper…
That’s just the appeal. What’s the command? The command is found in Verses 2 through 4, he says, Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility, count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others. So he actually is commanding the same thing here, multiple different ways, The first way he does it is a positive command, and it’s a positive general command, be united… We could summarize it. The second way is the negative command, don’t do these things, which cause disunity, and then the third is the practical like means how do you be United, what do you do to have a unity with one another?
So let’s go through those. The first one is, be united in mind and heart. I have been meditating on this for 14 years on and off, since I stood right here and preached it.
When I was still going to Faith, our pastor at the time here in this church gave me the opportunity to teach on Wednesday nights, and I chose the Book of Philippians on Wednesday nights to work through And when I came across this verse, it stunned me because I’ve always heard the thinking that we should have… We should… It’s okay to disagree on stuff, and yet this verse here says, No, have the same mind. Have the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. I remember looking at that. What does this mean? Does this mean that we can’t have our own thoughts about things… Does this mean that we’re all supposed to be like a mind control cult thing… No, in case you were wondering. But at the very least, I think that this means we ought to be so consumed with Christ in our mind and our heart, that we are united together in our focus on him, rather than focusing on our desires preferences, opinions. We focus on Christ. The positive command here is for us to turn our eyes on Jesus and the things of earth grow strangely dim. Guess what, the things of earth are your opinions, your preferences, your selfish desires, oftentimes our need, however, to be right, outweighs our need to be unified in our worship of Christ, that thing we want can become the shines thing instead of growing dim.
We fix our eyes on that shiny thing and our preferences end up becoming golden calves that we sacrifice our relationships too, and I wanna be with you and plead with you today, don’t let that happen. Set your mind on Christ and be willing to drop and sacrifice anything for Christ, and that’s where he goes. In the next step, the negative command, so that was the positive command, be unified in full accord, have the same mind. I think we’re supposed to have the same mind by fixing it on Jesus Christ, and where I get that is verse 5, by the way, In case you need textual proof that we… Our mindset, where our mind ought to be, is not fixed on everything else, it ought to be fixed on Jesus Christ and his mindset.
So the negative command are, in other words, one tip about biblical interpretation is to notice when somebody makes positive and negative commands back to-back… Because then you can ask the question, what relationship do they have? So if in the first command, he says, Be United in your mind and heart, and in the second command, he says, Don’t be selfishly ambitious or conceited, you know that they’re connected in his mind, in other words, the way to be dis-unified is by being selfishly ambitious or conceited, what do those words mean? That word selfishly, ambitious is a word- Weird word. I think we might get the wrong idea even from that translation, other times in the SP, that word is translated self-seeking, and I think that’s much closer. I think that’s a very helpful translation, self-seeking…
So if we fill that in, He says, Do nothing from self-seeking. The second word there is conceit. I love that word. The old KJV would translate that word, vain glory. I think you have your KJV with you today. Right. Vain glory. I love that old KJV word, but we have no idea what that means today, that is a literal translation of a compound word in Greek, and the first part of the word means empty or vein, and the second part of the word means glory, ( insert original text word). So the idea is that you have this empty glory, are you pursuing a kind of… Empty. Glory for yourself. An empty vindication, justification, I need to be right. And I’m after that thing. Paul is saying that being self-seeking, I’m being proud and conceited and seeking after the need to be right, to need to be proven right. Those things are the enemy of unity in mind and heart with other believers through the enemy, or to say it another way, if there’s disunity, it is probably because of our self-seeking and our pride.
So we’ve got the positive command, we’ve got the negative command, and now we’re gonna have the way command, in other words, how… How do we be unified? It’s a great idea to be unified, it’s a great general concept, very abstract concept, what specifically do we do to pursue that? And that’s the next two verses, Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit. Verse 3, but in humility, count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you not only look to his own interests, but also to the interest of others, and these two quickly connected phrases, we see that he’s making a command to show the how of the previous commands. I want you to see the first part here is to consider other people and what they want and what they need, as more important than what you want and what you need.
It’s right there. The verse is clear. Count others more significant than yourself. Well, you’re more important. I’m gonna lift you up. You’re more important, what you want here is more important, what you need here is more important, we’ll do that, and you ignore what you want, you sacrifice what you want for the sake of unity. The second part is that we are to not only look for our own interest, but also the interest of others, that translation in the ESV makes it sound like we’re supposed to look out for our own interests. And I don’t think that’s what he’s saying. I don’t think that’s what he’s saying. And the reason is, because He’s gonna give an example in the next three verses, and that example, clearly Jesus is not looking out for his own interests at all… That’s my reasoning. Is right from the text. So the focus here is that I’m gonna be concerned for what is in your best interest, I’m gonna be concerned for what would be good for you, I’m not gonna consider what I think is best, what I think is most important. I’m gonna be focused on everyone else, that is the quickest way to unity when everybody does that.
I can sit across from two people, a husband and a wife who are fighting with one another, and I can look at each one of them, and I say, You stop, you gotta stop chasing what you want and start sacrificing to give to the other person, and then I look at the other person and I say, You gotta stop chasing what you want and you’ve gotta start sacrificing to give to the other person. And I say, Do you see how this works? If you’re both doing that, then both are getting your needs met. Now, there’s a few cautions that I give you about this.
First of all, I wanna remind you that opportunities are abundant to think about what you want to think about, what you think is right, to think about what your preferences are, that is our default mode as sinners, it’s the reason why a two-year-old can scream at the top of their lungs when somebody takes a toy that was sitting next to them, but they weren’t even playing with… No, I’m not talking from experience at all.
Right, but the two-year-old has got it innately in their heart, they want what they want, it’s our default mode and it doesn’t get better, it just gets more sophisticated, we get more sophisticated. We might not scream at the top of our lungs, but we might give the cold shoulder, we might manipulate, we might argue until we get our way, but it’s the same thing, it’s the same child screaming for the thing that they want, it takes active intent, that’s the reason why the command is given here, it takes active intent for us to focus not on what we want, not on what would make us the most important person in the room, but on what others want, on what others need. I want is in the interest of others and on how we can make others more significant than what we are and want… It takes active intent. That’s the reason why it’s commanded.
I wanna give you a few warnings about this, and I will give you warnings from personal experience, number one, Do not expect others to return the favor, ’cause if you wait for others to return the favor, you will be waiting a long time… Amen? This is Not the way it works. Ideally, that would happen, and I pray that for our church family, but in my experience, when I go out of my way to try to do something like that, it is not reciprocated, it’s not even banked. And in fact, instead, what normally happens is they begin presuming on me in that they begin just assuming that I’m gonna do that for them, that I’m gonna give in, that I’m gonna sacrifice, and they just assume that innate the way it is. And my dad told me something when I was… I think it was in a sermon, if I remember correctly, he told me this, you know you are a servant when you’re treated like one, you know you’re serving in this way, when others give no thoughts to your labor, your preferences, your desires, your interest, but instead just start assuming on your service. It’s at that point when you know you are following closely in the footsteps of Jesus, who Is Jesus Christ? He came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many. And that brings us to the height, the mountain top of this passage, which is found in Verses five through eight, it says, Have this mind in you, which was yours in Christ Jesus. Our third point is the example we’re given of what it looks like for us to maintain unity, what does it look like for us to not be self-seeking, to not be proud, and conceded, what does it look like for us to… In humility, count others as more significant than ourselves, what does it look like for us to not look out for our own interest, but instead to look out for the interest of others. What does that look like? We’ve got the perfect example, Jesus Christ, it says, there’s a five-step, I call it the humiliation process of Jesus in this passage. It’s five steps. And imagine a stair step. It starts up here, he’s in heaven, who though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself. There’s A lot going on in this verse, it almost certainly was an early like creed for churches, or maybe it was a him of kind, but
The first kind of step is that Jesus Christ… He’s at the top of the stairs. He’s equal with God. He has angels at his beck and call. He is receiving glory from myriad of angels, is everything. And he looked at that position and he said, It’s not a thing to be held on tightly, it’s that idea of somebody catching something they love and not being willing to give it up, Jesus is not clutching that thing he loves instead, he lets go of it, he says No, I will sacrifice to bring unity, the people that are mine, I’m gonna bring them into relationship with me and the Father… That’s the first step. He’s up there and he did not count equality God with God a thing to be grasped. Or held on tightly. But I’ve get himself just a quick thought, it was part of my study this week, I have to do more commentary study to see if I’m on to something, the word there empty is the word ( insert original text KONOS). It’s the same word, that’s part of the word in Verse 3, For conceit in the ESV, that word that I said, met vain glory are empty glory.
Now think about what he’s saying here. He’s saying, Look, you today in your everyday life after empty, vain, worthless little things preferences, your way, stating your opinion, getting people to agree with you, whatever it is you’re after all of those vain glory. Little things. Jesus Christ had real glory, and He emptied Himself, you with all your lesser little petty glories, aren’t willing to empty yourself of those things. Come on, I think that’s what he’s saying. We’ll keep going. He took on the form of a servant, made an elects of man, so that the next two steps he’s up here in heaven, took on the form of the servant, not only to God the father, but to the human race. He did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many. And then he takes it a step further. He comes as a man and comes as a servant, now, I want you just to imagine for a second, like how limiting… That must have been, not that God is in any way limited, but just imagine for a second, God, 100% God wrapping Himself in human flesh and…
What must that have been like? Do you think that’s what he really preferred… You think that’s what he wanted. Do you think that would be in his best interest? No, but he was willing to take on human form to save us, took on the form of a servant made in the likeness of man, being found in human form. In human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. That’s four and five. Dead, he was willing to die. Just stop. Remember who we’re talking about here? 100% God in human form, willing to die, and not only willing to die, not like dying, like a quick, easy death, but willing to die the most humiliating death possible. The
Five-step humiliation process of Jesus Christ is very real. Listen, a couple of things about that. First of all, Jesus did not die on the cross so that we could argue over our opinions and preferences, he did it, he died on the cross for us to be unified in our love for Him. All those other things, let him go. Empty yourself up then He died on the cross to redeem us from selfishness, to redeem us from pride, to redeem us from self-seeking, to redeem us from looking up for our own interest, to redeem us from all of those things, he died the cross, so that we could be free and forgiven and his. Why would we go back to it? When he’s called us to such a better way, and that brings us to point number four for this sermon today. And that is a promise. Verses 9 through 11, Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. To the glory of God the Father. That’s an amazing verse, exalting Jesus Christ. But I wanna ask the question, Why is that included in the example given to us… Why is that? Why are those three verses given in the example of what kind of mindset we ought to have towards one another, why? I think it’s because it’s a promise, it’s a command.
This whole section is to stop worrying about yourself and what you want and your silly preferences, and instead sacrifice all and let God take care of you, stop trying to justify yourself and vindicate your actions, and instead allow God to give you your vindication and your glorification. God will honor those who put themselves aside in the pursuit of unity and love for one another, He will honor those who do that, ’cause that’s what Jesus did, and he was given a name that was above every name.
So I’m asking, I’m not asking, I’m commanding. Because the Word of God commands it. Walk worthy of the gospel. What doesn mean for you to be somebody who has been transformed by the Gospel, but following the footsteps of your Savior, who sacrificed his interest, sacrificed what he wanted for the sake of others, what does it mean? Except that when you sacrifice to bring… To bring together, to bring unity when you sacrifice everything except the gospel to bring unity, that is what it means to walk worthy of the gospel, which is just a few verses ahead of our passage here today, if you are struggling in your life, you have been one who has been bitter and angry, and you’re realizing now those sins have been dominating your life for a long time, and you need to confess those, and maybe for the first time, you need to confess those. Look at the humility of the Savior who died on the cross to forgive you for those sins, He loves you.
Look at that, he loves you, he’s offering that forgiveness to you today, and he’s offering a new nature and He will give it to you day. And if you’re listening today, and you know you’re a believer, but you also know, as we all have, is these tendencies constantly to fight for ours, stand up for ourselves, to consider ourselves more significant than others, to seek our own… That I’m asking and I’m pleading with you based off of the Word of God, set those things aside and sacrifice them to maintain and promote unity here
In our body with other Christians broadly and to live peaceably with those around you. That’s the command today, we’re in just a moment. Today, we’re gonna close with the song, Turn your eyes on Jesus, but I’m invite you to close your eyes and bow your heads for a moment here and quietly consider what God would have for you, how he would call you to respond to this message.