Take a look at Philippians 2:1-4. “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
God wants harmony in His church. No church is perfect. Even the church at Philippi had a slight hint of disunity. Philippians 1:27 says, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Now look at Philippians 2:2-3 again. “Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Now look at Philippians 4:2. “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.”
There were two sisters in the church who had a falling out. Their names are hard to pronounce. Someone called them Odious and Soon-touchy! For some reason they weren’t of the same mind.
Paul is calling for unity in the church. We have a simple outline this evening. First, I want you to see the plea for harmony. Verses 1-2 say, “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”
The plea for harmony in the church is in the key of C. First of all, “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ….” The word consolation means encouragement. When we console a person, we encourage them.
The encouragement of Christ ought to make us of one mind. We are to be of one mind for His sake. The greatest testimony to the deity of Christ is the unity of the church. Jesus prayed in John 17 that the church would be of one heart, one soul, and one mind, that the world might know that God the Father had sent God the Son.
The second word is comfort. “…if any comfort of love…” Haven’t you been comforted by the love of God? Hasn’t He been good to you? Paul is saying, “If God loves us like that, we ought to love one another.”
There was an old Methodist evangelist named Sam Jones who said, “I’ve made up my mind that I will never fall out with anybody, until that person treats me worse that I have treated Jesus Christ.”
The third “C” is communion. The Greek word koinonia, which we translate into the word fellowship, speaks of a communion of spirit. Paul says that we are to be one because we share the same spirit. The same Holy Spirit that lives in me lives in you, so we are members of the same body. When you hurt me, you hurt you. When you love me, you love you.
When one member suffers, every member suffers with them. When one member rejoices, every member rejoices with them. So Paul says, “If you’ve been comforted by the same Christ, you ought to be in communion with one another. In other words, you ought to love one another.
The fourth “C” word is compassion. Paul says, “…if there be any bowels of mercies.” What does that mean? The ancient people described compassion as bowels and mercies. When the Greeks spoke of bowels, they weren’t describing your lower intestines. They were talking about the lungs, and the liver, and the heart, and the stomach. They felt that these were the seat of your emotions. We do the same thing. We say, “I love you with all my heart.” Or, we call our wives “sweetheart’ not sweet head!
Paul says we are to be of one mind because of the compassion that one Christian is to have for another Christian. It takes a hard heart and an empty head to start a church fuss!
Not only is there a plea for harmony; there is the practice of harmony. Verse 2 says, “Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” We don’t have to be the same, but we do have to be one.
When we sing, it’s much more beautiful if we sing in harmony rather than in unison. In other words, every one is singing a different part, but we’re all singing the same song.
You have certain thoughts and certain ways, and I have certain thoughts and certain ways. But we are all to be one. On the day of Pentecost, they were all in one place and they were all in one accord. And when that happened, God demonstrated great power.
There must be oneness but there must also be lowliness. Verse 3 says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” The opposite of lowliness is strife and vainglory.
Strife is putting someone else down: vainglory is putting yourself up. Paul says, “Don’t do either one of these things. In lowliness of mind, esteem everyone else better than you are.”
Paul warns us of two things here. He warns us of a party spirit and a proud spirit. Strife refers to a party spirit. There are some who are for Texas and some who are for Texas A. & M. Where I’m from it’s some who are for O.U. and some who are for O.S.U. Many of these rivalries are harmless. But in the church there can be no rivalries…..no party spirit.
You can’t have one saying, “Brother Gary is my pastor,” and another saying, “Brother John is my pastor,” etc. Jesus is our Lord.
You can’t say, “Craig is our teacher and you can’t have him.” You can’t say, “This is our department and you can’t move us.” Oh, is that right? I thought we were here for Jesus! I thought we were all going to do our best to make sure Jesus is glorified! There can be no party spirit, no vainglory, and no self first attitude. Those things hurt the unity of the church.
The Bible says, “It is only by pride that contention comes.” There has never been a single argument where pride wasn’t involved.
Paul says, “As you practice this harmony, you do it through oneness and lowliness. Don’t let your pride cause you to hurt the work of Christ. Thirdly, do this with helpfulness. Verse 4 says, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
When you get real busy helping with the needs of other people, this church will be the sweetest place on earth! The world teaches you to look out for number one….to look out for yourself. But that is 180 degrees from what the Bible teaches. The Christian life is wrapped up in the word “others.”
General William Booth founded the Salvation Army. A big convention was being held, but circumstances prevented General Booth from attending. So they asked him to write a letter which could be read at the convention. He sent a terse telegram that had one word on it…… “Others!”
That’s the way our Lord lived. When Jesus was on the cross they said, “He saved others, himself he could not save.” Well, they were partly right. He did save others, but it wasn’t that He couldn’t save Himself; it’s that He wouldn’t save Himself. The only man Jesus ever refused to save was Himself. He lived for others, and that’s what we’re supposed to do.
We are to practice harmony with a sense of oneness, with a sense of lowliness, and with a spirit of helpfulness. “Let this my motto be, that I might live for others, that I might live for Thee.”
The last thing I want you to notice is the pattern for Harmony. Jesus epitomizes everything the Christian ought to do and to be. Look at what Paul says in verses 5-11. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Paul is saying, “Jesus is the supreme example of what I’m talking about.” He’s the example of not being puffed up with vainglory. He’s the example of humility and putting others first.
Paul speaks of Jesus as being the Sovereign. Verse 6 says, “…who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Jesus was God in a human body. If I said I was equal with God, that would be the crime of the century. It would be robbery. I would be stealing the glory that belongs only to God. But Jesus thought it not robbery to be equal with God….because He was God! I Timothy 3:16 says, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh…” If you have one of the modern per-versions instead of the King James, then this verse doesn’t indicate that Jesus was God in the flesh.
When I speak about Jesus, I’m not just talking about some great teacher, or some great philosopher. Jesus was more than a man. Jesus was and is altogether God! Verse 6 speaks of the Sovereign.
Verse 7 speaks of the Servant. The Sovereign becomes the slave. He laid aside all His splendor, His rights, and His prerogatives and became a Man. But when He became a Man, that doesn’t mean He was no longer divine. He was as much God as though He were not man at all; and He was as much Man as though He were not God at all. He wasn’t half man and half God; He was the God-man.
Paul says that we are to humble ourselves and become obedient with Jesus as our example. He served, suffered and sorrowed as a man. And we ought to be amazed that God would so empty Himself……that the Sovereign of the universe would become the Servant of all. We see the Lord Jesus taking a basin and a towel and washing the disciple’s feet.
We can be so proud and so arrogant at times! First, we see the Sovereign, then we see the Servant; but He gets even lower and becomes the Substitute. Verse 8 says, “…and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Why did Jesus die on that cross? He died for others! He didn’t die for Himself. He’s an illustration of verse 4, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
He died the most shameful death a man could die. He went from glory to Golgotha. He went from the highest of heights to the lowest of depths. The death of the cross was the most shameful, hurtful, horrible death that a man could die. There’s never been a worse form of execution than the cross.
Crucifixion began when cruel men used to nail rats to a wall so they could watch them squirm and die just for their own twisted pleasure. And one of those men said, “Hey, we could do that with a man! Let’s nail up a man and watch him hang there until he dies.”
So, Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, died like a rat nailed to a wall! He became obedient unto death…not just any death…but the death of the cross.
Why did He do it? The Bible says that He did it for others. We often say, “Jesus died for me.” But if you understand it better you’ll say, “Jesus died instead of me.”
Paul is saying that we are to live in this church in a spirit of oneness, in a spirit of lowliness, and in a spirit of helpfulness. He also says that Jesus is our example of all this.
So we see Jesus as Sovereign, we see Jesus as Servant, we see Jesus as our Substitute; but now I want you to see Jesus as the Superior. Verses 9-11 says, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Now He’s the Superior. He has a name that is above all names.
Now I want you to learn a biblical principal. When we are willing to humble ourselves, God will exalt us. But when we exalt ourselves, God will humble us. That’s true of an individual, and it’s true of a church.
Are you willing to be less than the least? Are you willing to follow Jesus who laid aside all His rights? When a Christian says, “I demand my rights!” he’s never less like Jesus or more like the devil.
The devil said, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I’m going up!” God says, “No, you’re going down. You will be brought to the sides of the pit.”
Jesus says, “I’m going down. I will humble myself.” God says, “Yes, and you’re going up. I will give you a name above every name.”
Luke 14:11 says, “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
I Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”
When you submit yourself to Jesus Christ, He gives you His mind and you think His thoughts after Him.
It’s so sweet to be a part of a church when that church is living in harmony. And the hardest-hearted person is the one who harms the harmony of God’s glorious church. Never be that person.