Today’s key thought is about one-mindedness. I got to witness an amazing display of one-mindedness this week. A couple friends and I were able to go down to the Raptors game this past Tuesday. I’m a Bucks fan, but I have to give credit where credit is due. I figured there would be a couple of hundred of us. Nope. We counted 10. At one point Giannis, the Bucks star, missed a free throw and it got loud, the loudest I’ve ever heard at an event. I left there amazed at the crowd and thought, there is no way the Bucks are winning in Toronto, and after last night I guess I was right. 

Paul is as big a fan of the Philippian church as anyone in that stadium. See The raptors may give their fans joy, but Paul says to the Philippian church in verse three that they can complete his joy. He’s found much joy in them, he always prays for them with joy, but now, as he has shared his hopes for them, to go on without him, he tells them how they can fill up his joy, he’s cheering for them.

complete my joy by being of the same mind, 

‘I will need no further happiness,’ he says, ‘if only I can hear that you are a united church.’ 

See last week, we saw that Paul had told the Philippians that he may never see them again, but his one charge to them was that they would go on together living as an outpost of the kingdom of heaven, living as citizens of the heavenly kingdom set apart from the world, standing firm in the teaching, striving together in the gospel and not fearing anything. We noted last week that Paul was speaking to them as a church together, and now he addresses that togetherness, even more directly, for in order for them to continue on as an outpost of the kingdom, they must be united. They must be one-minded. For a kingdom divided cannot stand.

Countdown to One-mindedness: 

4 Fundamental Realities in Which One-Mindedness is Based

We first see that Paul basis his appeal for one-mindedness in four fundamental assumption about Christian community. 

Phil. 2:1   So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy

Most commentators group “affection and sympathy” together to read something like “heartfelt affection.” The statements are all rhetorical - Paul’s not asking is there any encouragement in Christ? No, he’s saying if there is any encouragement in Christ and you better believe that there is indeed! These four things are available and accessible to the Christian seeking to live in one-minded community. Before we unpack each of the four things, it is noted that the first three are delivered as an allusion to the trinity. The first relates to Christ, the second to love, and the third to the participation in the Spirit. Note how closely Paul’s thought here corresponds to 2 Cor. 13:14  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Here you also have Christ, Love, participation in the Spirit.

  1. There is encouragement in Christ: The word in both English and Greek can have a dual meaning. To encourage someone is to spur someone on to greater things, and to encourage someone is to lift someone out of dark valleys. We get both in Christ. He meets us in the dark valley and encourages us with the gospel of salvation and redemption, and having come to Christ, he encourages us to strive ever onward and upward to the goal of the high calling in Christ. Thus, Christ lifts us up and spurs us onward.

  2. There is comfort from love: There is comfort for the believer found in the Love of God. “The peace that surpasses understanding.” One of the commentaries said that the basic sense of the word is “to speak to someone in a friendly way.” How great is that? God doesn’t motivate by fear. Watching the athletes last night, you can tell who is comfortable in the moment and who is terrified by it. That seems to be the difference when the pressure is on. So not only is Christ encouraging us, but the love of God is settling us. 

  3. There is participation in the Spirit: The shared life and common resources available to all who possess and are possessed by the Spirit of God. we each share in the Holy Spirit of God, partaking of Him. The same Spirit in me is in you, and you and you in me. That means we each have power to continue on in unity. In marriage, the Holy Spirit is such a necessary partner. In a church no less. I’ve had conflict in which the need was there to pray, and then I met with the person and the Spirit had been speaking to them what He’d been speaking to me about. Therefore, through our relationship with the Tri-Une God we find encouragement, comfort and the resources of the Spirit to walk in unity, but there’s more, because there is something God is doing in us through our relationship with him:

  4. There is affection and sympathy: or “heartfelt affection” These are now what we as believers possess in Christ, through the spirit of God living in us and changing our hearts, we have a love of the brethren - in fact, the scripture says, if we have no love of the brethren we do not possess the love of God. God has poured his love into our hearts that we in turn may possess an overflow of love toward others. 

These four fundamental realities are true of every Christian. God has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness and that includes everything necessary to live in one-mindedness with our brothers and sisters. The encouragement from Christ, the comfort of the love of the Father, the resources given through our participation in the Spirit and the heartfelt compassion of the new birth. 

3 Elements to Our Full Onemindedness

2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, [heart] being in full accord and [soul] of one mind. [mind]

Why the added descriptors here? Because we might misunderstand and think that Paul is only speaking about us holding certain central beliefs in common. We may reduce one-mindedness to our doctrinal statement. Yet though one mindedness obviously includes the element of how we think and what we commonly think about, onemindedness cannot by reduced to merely what and how we think. Paul describes three elements of our being that make up our full onemindedness. Onemindedness in Christian community involves our heart - that we would have the same love, our souls - the word translated here as bringing in full accord is literally in the greek - “together souled”, and that we may think the same. Heart, soul and mind there might be unity among us. 

So to recap thus far, Paul has said, “because of the loving relationship each of you have in the Triune God, give yourselves heart, mind and soul to one one another.  

2 Alternatives Each of Us Need to Choose Between as Individuals in Community

Now Paul gets practical, for how we will actually live in one mindedness comes down to a choice between 2 possible alternatives that each of us will face, probably daily. One is the path of the elevation of self, and the other the path of the elevation of others.

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.

Onemindedness does not simply passively come into Christian community, it grows only through the individual choices each of us makes to seek the good of one another. 

“Paul does not leave the question of the worthy life which produces the steadfast stand until he brings it to rest on the worthy life as it is found in the individual, not self-seeking and conceited but with a correctly humble estimate of himself, seeking the welfare of others and putting them first. Steadfastness depends on unity, and unity depends on me.” - TBST

Everyday you make hundreds of choices to live for your own vain glory or to raise up and build up others. Everyday you make the choice as to whose interests you will defend and pursue. 

1 Mind Modelled By Christ

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 

Every time Paul addresses unity in the church, he returns his focus on Christ. Our unity is not found in our preferences, culture, perspectives, likes. It is in Christ alone. 

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.

In his incarnation and in his redemptive death, Jesus made the choice to not look to his own interest, but to the interest of others, to not do anything from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility he counted others more significant than his own self.

The first three verses of this mindset point to two choices that were made by Christ, the first choice leading to the next, but written with a beautiful symmetry.

The first choice the Eternal Christ made was to empty himself of his divine position and glory to be born among us as one of us. Jesus’ story is that of a king or perhaps Princess Jasmine who puts on the clothes and the manner of the beggar to get outside of the castle walls and live among his people. He doesn’t grasp onto his position or privilege as the Sovereign, but sets it aside to walk among his people as one of them. As Ray Stedman puts it.

“When Jesus entered this world, stepping out of eternity into time, he could not empty himself of his Deity. That needs to be made clear. What he could and did do was empty himself of every expression of Deity. He did not come to manifest what God was like. He came to show us what man ought to be. He did not give up his rights as God. He gave up his right to enjoy the rights of God. “

That’s the choice of incarnation. It’s not that Jesus becomes less divine, but that in adding our humanity to himself he veils his divinity, and comes among us not as a god but as a servant. 

Luke 22:24   A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

John 13:12   When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

The second choice Jesus made was in his redemptive death. He humbled himself, giving his one life to save others. Tasting life and death for us all. 

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.

Humility, followed by being exalted by God, is a theme that runs through the New Testament, especially in Jesus' own teaching:

  • "Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:4)

  • Concerning seeking to be called exalted titles by men: "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:12)

  • Take the lowest place when you are a guest at a banquet: "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 14:11)

  • On the Pharisee and tax collector praying in the temple: "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:14)

  • "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." (James 4:10)

  • "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." (1 Peter 5:6)

It is no accident that genuine, self-imposed humility is the only way that love and unity can flourish in the Church, the Body of Christ. And Jesus himself leads the way.

Here is the end for which we strive together in onemindedness, nothing less than the elevation of Christ Jesus, to the Glory of God the Father. This is the ultimate goal for which Jesus set aside his rights and humbled himself to death, and this is ultimately the goal of the church. To elevate Christ and glorify the Father. This is a greater goal than an NBA championship, this is why Paul is such a big fan of this church, he wants to have his joy filled up by seeing them walk together in onemindedness, so that the majesty of God may be put on display among them, and that the name of Jesus may be exalted through their witness.