1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Philippians 2 is a revolutionary chapter, because it sets the standard for the Christ-centered, selfless life every believer ought to live, as opposed to the selfish life the world promotes. We are encouraged to demonstrate the meaningful qualities of true sacrifice, humility, unity and love within the family of God. These qualities were first demonstrated by Jesus Himself, who came to earth to serve us, to die for our sins, and to set an example for us as His disciples.
In Philippians 1:27, Paul charges believers to walk worthy of the gospel of Christ by being united, standing fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. Now the first four verses of Philippians 2 continue his charge, first by giving them two warnings, and then by encouraging them to be careful about their witness.
“Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
The first warning is against selfish living, which is the opposite of what Christ demonstrated on the cross: “…to serve and give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Believers are deceived when their selfish natures are not surrendered to God, when they instead advance themselves at the expense of others. This sense of rivalry reflects the attitude of Satan before he was kicked out of heaven, when he said, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will set up my throne above the stars of God” (Isaiah 14:13).
The second warning is against prideful living. The word “conceit” speaks of being excessively vain about one’s achievements or personal importance. Paul cautioned the church at Rome concerning this in Romans 12:3. “For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.” Other Scriptures reflect this admonition, including 1 Corinthians 13:4 and Proverbs 13:10 and 16:18.
Paul also encourages disciples of Christ to live in humility. The biblical mindset of humility goes against the world we live in today, which promotes self-confidence and self-advancement. James wrote in James 4:6, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Although the world does not honor humility, the favor of God is on those who live humbly, demonstrating the life of Christ and the witness of the gospel.
Philippians 2 begins with the word “If,” which implies “Since.” Since the believers have been consoled through being brought into the family of Christ and comforted by His love, then this should be the basis for their relationships with one another. Loving, comforting, forgiving, accepting and being tenderhearted toward one another are the fruits of the love of God. It is the Holy Spirit who guides, convicts and teaches the ways of the Lord.
Paul likewise encourages the believers not to be divided as the world is, but to live united, in one mind. Selfishness and division in the Body of Christ opposes the Lord Jesus Christ and hurts the witness of the gospel. Furthermore, it is Paul’s plea to the believers to live as examples of Christ. As Christ gave Himself for us, we ought to give ourselves for one another. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Is there anyone within your circle of influence who needs to be encouraged by your example of the love of Christ?
- Are there any prideful thoughts hindering you from serving others in the Body of Christ?
Pray for play time and rest this weekend for global workers. Pray for sweet sleep, laughter, simple joys and peace as they pause to allow the Lord to restore them.