Two Ways a Well-Lived Gospel Life Contributes to Church Unity
The apostle Paul gets painfully practical in Philippians 2:3-4 in describing how we go hard after the having the same love being in full accord unity of Philippians 2:2.
He comes at it from two directions.
First, with respect to self, humility (v. 3).
This was a tough sell in the day. No Greek viewed positively the word Paul uses in v. 3.
It was only ever associated with slaves and lower-class citizens. It was never a compliment to say you were humble.
But Christianity turns culture on its head. For the saints of God, it is a supreme virtue.
Look how emphatic Paul gets in v. 3. Do nothing. How much? Nothing. The negative stands first in the Greek sentence for emphasis.
He’s talking motives here. Selfish ambition and conceit have got to go.
Rather, in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
That same word is translated elsewhere as surpassing (Phil. 3:8) describing the surpassing worth of knowing Christ.
This kind of humility of self keeps conceit and ambition in check at the expense of others by seeing others of greater value than oneself.
It’s what Peter prescribes for the unity of his churches in 1 Pet. 5:5b:
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Second, with respect to others, concern (v. 4).
Paul assumes we will look out for our own interests. He doesn’t need to exhort on that score.
But unity has another facet beside the attitude of humility that counts others more significant. It looks out for their interests as well.
The word for “look” is skopeo from where we get the word “scope.” Go out of your way take notice–scope out–the concerns of others in your community and act accordingly.
Here’s a way to test what degree Trinitarian realities and apostolic priorities motivate your “how” in preserving unity.
Think of the person in your church that you like the least. That’s right. Let’s face it, we all have favorites and most, if not all of us, have just the opposite.
Perhaps you even downright dislike this person. He or she just rubs you the wrong way.
That’s just the individual by which you can measure the worthiness quotient of your life in the gospel.
If you look down at all on him/her, if you can’t remember the last time you took note of one of their concerns, may I suggest you can do better through the transforming power of the gospel?
Let that be the standard by which you measure a life worthy of the gospel.
Question: What are some ways you have found helpful for looking out for the concerns of others?