Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
You will notice that this passage begins with the word “therefore” and as we know, this word is used when one is drawing a conclusion from what had come just before. In this case, you’ll recall from the last post that Paul has been exhorting the Philippians to behave in a manner that is “worthy of the Gospel”. If we are going to behave in this way, the way Jesus Himself behaved, then we need to do certain things, to make some adjustments, and in this passage, Paul tells us what they are.
Paul sets out an “if – then” statement here as a manner of encouragement for the readers. Here’s the “if”:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, (v. 1)
It is as if he was saying, “Look people, if you’ve gotten anything from your relationship with Christ…” If we’ve received any encouragement, comfort, common sharing, tenderness and compassion… Then:
then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. (v. 2)
So, if you’ve received any of those blessings, then here’s what Paul wants you to do. You’ll notice that these are all things associated with unity as believers. He could have simply told them to quit fooling around, arguing and disputing amongst themselves and be like Jesus!
Verses 3 and 4 carry on his thought: We are not to do things out of selfish interests, self-centeredness or conceit. We should be humble, and put others ahead of ourselves. We should not be concerned with our own interests, but with the interests of others. Can you think of a shorter way of saying this?
Good, I thought you’d see it: Love one another. Yep, that’s the key!
OK, remember in the last post where I said that being imitators of Christ was the sign of the New Covenant?
That means that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. It doesn’t mean follow the rules, for rules are way too shallow; it means love your neighbor as yourself. If we do that, we won’t need to worry about any rules, we’ll be in no danger, for the whole Law is fulfilled if we love God and love our neighbor.
In the next post we’ll pick up in verse five, where Paul gives us a practical example of what this means.