Posted by: Heather | October 3, 2008

be like-minded . . does that mean I have to think like you?

My next preaching assignment is Phil 2:1-4. A short passage, but packed with so much. Not so much content, just so much growth needed on my part to measure up.

Php 2:1 If there is therefore any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tendernesses and mercies,
Php 2:2 then fulfill my joy, that you may be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord and of one mind.
Php 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.
Php 2:4 Do not let each man look upon his own things, but each man also on the things of others.

The first word that catches my eye is the word “if” that appears 4 times in verse 1. It is attached to the word “then” in verse 2.

The second word that catches my attention is the word “any.” This is an all inclusive word. So it is not about the amount of what follows, but the presence at all.

The next word that catches my eye is the word “encouragement.” The Greek word used here (paraklesis) is a form of the same Greek word (parakletos) that Jesus used in John 14 and 16 that is translated Comforter and refers to the Holy Spirit. (I will not leave you comfortless, but I will send a Comforter) The word was used to describe someone who comes alongside one who is helpless or disabled and rescues them. The picture is of a disabled ship stranded in the sea, and another ship coming along side and attaching itself to the disabled ship. So the first phrase, “If there is therefore any encouragement in Christ” says that if Christ has come alongside and rescued you in any way.

Then he goes on to say, “if any comfort of love,” (again “any” is here) The word used for comfort is the idea of consolation or to be consoled. And the word for love is agape, which is God’s love. So the next “if” is if there has been any consolation in your life by God’s love. (which of us has not freely enjoyed God’s love?)

Then the third “if” is: “if there is any fellowship of the Spirit” This has the idea of moving in the same direction. Fellowship is the idea of walking along in the same direction for the same purpose. If we have any of the Spirit’s purpose in us.

The fourth “if” is: “if any tendernesses and mercies,” the word “tendernesses” here refers to empathy. So if we have any empathy in God’s mercy.

So, I would ask (myself as much as anyone) Which of us has not Jesus not come alongside and rescued? Which of us has never been consoled by God’s love? Are we wanting to go in the same direction as God’s Spirit? And how can we receive God’s mercy without empathy for others who need it as well?

These “ifs” are not alone. They are in an “if – then” sequence. This means if one thing is true, than another thing follows, or if you do this, then you need to do that, or are obligated to do that, etc. If we fit these above categories, we should do the following: “then fulfill my joy, that you may be like-minded . . .”

Is this “like-mindedness” important? It must be, notice that it is repeated 3 times in this verse. Php 2:2 then fulfill my joy, that you may be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord and of one mind.” (emphasis mine)

So if it is that important, what exactly does it mean? Is it about having the same doctrine? Is it about having the same theology? How about a common mission statement? Does this mean we need to agree on everything, or just most things? Well, before we get carried away, let’s look at the context.

Php 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.
Php 2:4 Do not let each man look upon his own things, but each man also on the things of others.

Wow, there isn’t a doctrinal or theological word in those verses! They are all about attitude. They don’t focus on the thoughts in the mind, but the posture of the heart. (I find the posture of my heart drives the thought processes of my mind anyway) Now don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying that theology or doctrine are not important. I believe they are very important. But how many times have we heard people talk about being “like-minded” and then go into some lofty doctrinal or theological point? That isn’t what being like-minded is about. It isn’t about what you think, it is about what (or who) you value -namely Christ and everyone He values – and to what extent you value them – the target being to value things as Christ values them. It is all about having the same love and attitude that Christ had. This, by the way, must be what the soldiers chained to Paul saw in him that pointed to Christ. I have heard it said that the world won’t care what we know about Christ, until they know that we care about them.

Let nothing . . . (an exclusive word, no exceptions). . . be done through strife . . . (has the idea of contention or factions) . . . or vainglory . . (self boasting or conceit) . . but . . . (told us what not to do, now he will tell us what to do) . . . in lowliness of mind . . . (no hidden meanings here, means what it says) . . let each . . (again, no exceptions, that’s all of us) . . . esteem . . . (an accounting word, has to do with value) . . . others . . . (pretty inclusive, no exceptions, the same Greek word used in all of the “one anothers“) . . . better than themselves.

Verse 4 uses the words “each man” twice for emphasis. Each man is not to look on his own things or interests, but each man is to look out for the interests of others. None of us can get off of the hook here.

Then the context gives 3 examples of this posture of heart: the “mind of Christ” – – who being in very form God, did not think it a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself . . , – – the selflessness of Timothy – – I am sending Timothy to you because no one is like-minded like him who will naturaly care for your state, and the sacrifice of Epaphroditus – – who got sick and nearly died while serving Paul in Rome in the stead of the Philippians.

Food for thought.

Craig

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Responses

  1. I always love your thoughts! Thanks for the word! It is incredible how true the scripture is that love fulfills everything – it all comes down to love (love God, love others). I’m glad you pointed out how it emphasises it is inclusive of everyone, always looking out for everyone else, never me.

  2. Thanks LyleI always check to see if there is a new post from you as well. Then I will be thinking of it the rest of the day. Sort of nice to have a little devotional with you from time to time. Craig


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