Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Philippians 2: How To Share Christ's Mind

Theme: You should share Christ's mind.

2. By humbling yourself (2)

One attitude which creates division and strife, is pride.  To promote a united fellowship in the gospel, then, chapter two instructs believers to share the humble mind of Christ (1-2).  Rather than acting from selfishness ("contention", "putting self forward":  used once in ancient literature to denote a "self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means"--Online Bible) or empty conceit (as those who preached Christ out of envy and strife [cf. 1:12-20]), the humble mind regards others as more important than itself (3).  When a person considers others more important than himself, he looks out for their interests, or well being.

This is the attitude Christ showed when He came to "seek and save that which was lost" (cf. Luke 19:10).  Although Christ is God, He did not cling to His divine rights (6).  Rather, He took the form of a servant. This included taking on human nature (1 Timothy 3:16), and serving man (7; cf. John 13).  He obeyed God's will (cf. Hebrews 10:7-9), by becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross (8), in pursuing our interest of redemption.  As a result of this humility, God highly exalted Christ above every other  name (cf. 1 Peter 5:6).

Believers should put this attitude into practice, as they work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.  This is not working "for" salvation, but working it "out", living in accord with the salvation God has already wrought and is still working (cf. 1:6; Romans 6:1-14; Ephesians 2:8-10).  The following verse explains, "for it is God who is at work in you both to will and do of His good pleasure" (13).  God is the one who both motivates and enables the believer to do what He wants.  By faith in their position in Christ, through the power of the Spirit, believers yield themselves to God's will.

Such obedience includes doing "all things without grumbling ("a secret debate or displeasure not openly avowed" [Online Bible]; cf. Exodus 16:7-8; Numbers 14:27; Acts 6:1; John 7:12; 1 Cor. 10:10; 1 Pet. 4:9, etc.) or disputing (such as the disciples reasoning which of them would be the greatest [Luke 9:46, 47]).  When put to practice, this attitude shines as a credible testimony of the gospel of Christ to the lost world (cf. John 17:23), as it holds fast (to mark, stay with, or pay attention to [Luke 14:7; Acts 19:22; 1  Timothy 4:16) the teachings of God's Word. 

A person whose humble motive is to look out for the interests of others, can rejoice even when such service leads him to death (17-18).  Timothy showed this attitude when he shared Christ's concern for the Philippians interests, by serving with Paul like a "child serving his father" (19-22).  Epaphroditus shared Christ's mind when he ministered to Paul in prison, becoming sick to the point of death in the process 25-30).

Chapter two calls us to share Christ's humble mind by regarding others as more important, looking out for others' needs, yielding our rights, obeying God, and following godly examples.

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