good quote

" In my opinion, the great single need of the moment is that light-hearted superficial religionists be struck down with a vision of God high and lifted up, with His train filling the temple. The holy art of worship seems to have passed away like the Shekinah glory from the tabernacle. As a result, we are left to our own devices and forced to make up the lack of spontaneous worship by ...bringing in countless cheap and tawdry activities to hold the attention of the church people." ~ A.W. Tozer

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Joyful Life: Study on Philippians Chapter 5

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, Fulfil 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."

A Humble Heart and a Helping Hand
Humility and concern for others are key qualities of the Christian Life.

   We all have heard about the man who was humble and proud of it, or about the man who was so humble that his coworkers gave him a large button that read, "I'm humble." However, as soon as he wore it, his coworkers made him return it. Apparently they thought he was not humble any longer.
  One dictionary defines humility as "the absence of pride or self- assertion." I don't know how that definition compares with yours, but I like it. I especially lik the latter part of the definition; the absence of self-assertion. I think the apostle Paul would have liked it too. He certainly exhorted the Philippians to avoid putting their own interests ahead of others'.

Be like-minded
   Sometimes it's frustrating to try to make someone happy. I'm sure you agree. I've worked for some people that never seemed happy. They don't even smile. I often wonder what would make them happy. The Philippian believers did not have to wonder what would make Paul happy. He wrote that his joy would be complete if they functioned as a like-minded group of Christians (Philippians 2:2).
  "Likeminded" is a key word in this section of Philippians. It means to think the same thing. Of course, it is more important to know what think means in Philippians 2:2. It doesn't quite fit the definition of thinking that a little boy gave. He described thinking as something that occurs "when your mouth stays shut and your head keeps talking to itself." There are, of course, different kinds of thinking. Some thinking never goes beyond the conceptual stage. You think about doing some work around the house, but you never do it; you just conceptualize it. You may continue to think about that project, but you just never do it. On the other hand, there is a kind of thinking that results in actions. You think about getting something to eat or to drink, and you follow through by "raiding the refrigerator." Or you think about going somewhere, and you actually drive there. You think about doing your income tax, and because the next day is April 15th, you complete the income tax forms and mail them to the IRS by mid-night of the 15th. The thinking that produces action was the kind Paul wrote about.
   The word "likeminded" in Philippians 2:2 expresses not merely a mental process but an act of the will. It denotes thinking that affects one's whole being in such a way that he makes a decision and acts. By engaging in the same action-oriented thinking, the Philippians would experience unity.

Here's how it works
  Was it really possible for the Philippians to have unity? Of course it was, but wherever people congregate, problems congregate. Someone has said that the removal of friction from interpersonal relationships is 90 percent of the solution to the problem of how to manage people. Although the Philippian church was an outstanding fellowship of believers, it wasn't perfect. The Philippians needed to remove some friction ( verses 3:2, 18, 19; 4:2).
   Before exhorting his readers to be like-minded, Paul mentioned four conditions that make unity possible (verse 2:1). Each condition begins with the word "if".
   The first condition that contributes to unity is "consolation in Christ." Consolation means encouragement. The Philippians' relationship to Christ encouraged them to think the same thing.
   The second condition that contributes to unity in a local church is "comfort of love." The meaning of "comfort" is similar to that of "consolation"; it means encouragement or exhortation. Christ's love for the Philippians encouraged them to love one another. Jesus had told His followers: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).
   The third condition that contributes to unity is the "fellowship of the Spirit." This fellowship is the Spirit-forged bond that believers share as members of the Body of Christ, the Church (1 Corinthians 12:13; Gal. 3:28). Spiritual equality in the Body of Christ was a strong incentive for the Philippians to stand together as one unit in the work of the gospel.
    The final condition that contributes to unity is "bowels and mercies." "Bowels" in Philippians 2:1 means tenderness, and "mercies" denotes the outward expression of compassion. Most likely, these words refer to the tender mercy and compassion of Christ, which the Philippians had experienced when they trusted in Him as Savior. Since they had received these kindnesses from Christ's hands, they needed to extend them to one another.
   Paul believed the Philippians would strive to be like-minded if they thought soberly about these four conditions. If we reflect adequately on the grace, mercy and love God extended to us in saving us and placing us into the Body of Christ, we, too, would make every effort to be like-minded-- to work harmoniously in the local church to advance the gospel.

Like-mindedness Described
   Paul described like-mindedness to his readers. He wrote first that like-mindedness means "having the same love" (verse 2). This refers to the Philippian Christians' love for one another [and their love for God and the things of God]. If they were like-minded, they would love one another as Christ loved them.
  They would also be "of one accord" (verse 2). They would share a united spirit or attitude. They would live together in harmony. Finally, they would be "of one mind" (verse 2); literally, they would think the one thing. This word translated "of one mind" is the word previously translated "be likeminded" in the same verse. Being like-minded, the Philippians would strive together to reach the goals God had established for them.
  Think about your church. Does it reveal unity in its fellowship and ministry? Are you and your fellow Christians united in the work of the gospel? Are you all like-minded? If not, why not? Bob Richardson observed that the basic problem most people have is that they're doing nothing to solve their basic problem. If a lack of unity is a basic problem in your church, why not begin today to solve it? Try to establish like-mindedness.

Some Products of Like-mindedness
  Amazing things happen when Christians are like-minded and strive together to reach important goals. There is less self-ambition and more self-abasement. Nothing is done through "strive or vainglory" (verse 3a). Strife means self-ambition, a lust for profit and power. "Vainglory" denotes an attitude of pride and the desire for personal prestige. These two attitudes presented a problem in the church in Philippi; they threatened the church's unity. Like-mindedness is the antidote for pride and love of prestige.

Gentle Consideration
   Paul challenged his readers to esteem others better than themselves (verse 3b). Esteem means to consider and denotes having an opinion about something. Not only were the Philippians supposed to consider others; they were supposed to consider others better than themselves.
   "Better" in verse 3 means to stand out. The Philippians were to think of other Christians in the church as "standing out" and therefore, better than themselves.
  This considerate attitude was possible only through "lowliness of mind" (verse 3b). "Lowliness of mind" describes someone with a humble opinion of himself; someone who is not arrogant of assertive. It describes a person who sees himself as God sees him. The way that a person perceives himself determines how he perceives others. A person who holds an inflated opinion of himself usually holds a deflated opinion of others.
   How do you see yourself? How does God see you? How similar or dissimilar are God's perception of you and your perception of yourself? How can you begin to see yourself as God sees you?
  Not only were the Philippians to consider others better than themselves, they were to care about other people's interests (verse 4). To develop this concern for others, the Philippians needed to stop focusing exclusively on their individual interests. The word "look" in verse 4 means to look attentively or to take note. It implies a desire to respond appropriately to what one sees. It's possible to see a need and ignore it. Paul wanted the Philippians to pay attention to people's needs and to help meet those needs. Like-mindedness would produce a single-minded concern for others and their needs.

A Servant's Heart
  An old Quaker, walking along the street, saw a cartman's horse suddenly fall dead. It was a serious loss, for the horse was essential to the cartman's livelihood. They bystanders shook their heads and clucked sympathetically. The Quaker removed his broad brimmed hat, placed a bank note in it, and said, "Friends, I am sorry for this man ten dollar's worth. How sorry are you?" The Quaker looked on the need of the cartman and did something about it. That's the kind of concern Paul wanted the Philippians to have.
  Someone remarked that a person all wrapped up in himself makes a very small package. Although each of us ought to respect himself and carry a healthy self-esteem, no one should worship himself or live to serve his own interests. If you worship yourself, think constantly of yourself, live entirely for yourself, you can not be like-minded. In order to be like-minded, you need to be lowly minded. You need to begin to see you as God sees you. When you see yourself as God sees you, you will see others as persons to whom you can minister. Lift your eyes today, look around and see burdened and lonely people. Develop a servant's heart, and help somebody today.

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