Lessons from the Book of Philippians
Greetings precious people, I do hope that you are doing well today and giving thanks to the Lord God Almighty for all of His goodness to you. Today we will be continuing our journey through the New Testament Book of Philippians. We are studying this book verse by verse. There is no better way to study the Word of God, the Bible.
We will begin our study today in chapter 2 of the Book of Philippians. These are some of the most important verses for the Christian as he or she attempts to live their life among others. In Philippians 2:1-4 we read, “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Notice that in the beginning sentence, the word “if” is used four times. It has been said that the word “if” is a little word with many meanings. This is very true especially when it is used in the Bible, the Word of God. The New Testament was originally written in the Greek language. The Greek language is much more expressive than other languages. For example, there are a number of different words used in the Greek language for “if” that have different meanings. There are basically 3 used in the Bible. First there is the Greek word “av” which is used with “ei” and has the meaning of if in the false sense. An example of this would be “if God were a man He would lie” or “if God should ever stop loving His children”.
The word “if” used in these examples is obviously in the false sense, for as the Bible tells us in Numbers 23:19, "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” And we are reminded many times in the Bible that God will never stop loving us.
Another Greek word that is used for “if” is “ean”. This has the most common understanding of the word “if”, it means it could be or may not be; it is up for grabs.
The final word that is used for “if” is “ei”. We could better understand this if the word “since” were to be used. It is not up for grabs, nor is it false, or in question. It is certain, for sure.
This is the word for “if” that is used in our text. Since, for sure there is consolation in Christ, since there is comfort in love, since there is fellowship of the Spirit and affection and mercy. These are certain, there is no doubt about it, and they are true.
So it is because these things are true and certain that the Christians at Philippi would be able to “fulfill my (Paul’s) joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” And so it is with every person that is Born Again. It is because of Jesus Christ and who He is, what He has done and will do, that we can be like-minded, have the same love for one another, live in unity and of the same mind. This does not mean that we loose our individuality (we covered this issue in a previous article) rather we do not allow our differences of personalities, different levels of maturity, different likes and dislikes to cause division and separation.
Now I admit it sounds a whole lot easier than it is to put into practice. The major obstacle in this taking place is ourselves. It is known as the “I” problem. The I, Me, Mine, and Myself. When we are insistent on having things our own way, in our time, and by our standards, trouble arises. When we are not willing to “die to ourselves” that is when many problems occur. Look at what Jesus says to any that are desirous of following Him. In Luke 9:23-26 we read, “Then He (Jesus) said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels.”
The “Me first” attitude that is common among young children and the majority of people in this world is not characteristic of the Christian life. Nor is selfishness, rudeness, or self-centeredness a part either. Rather, that which Paul states in the following verses describes what the Christian life is to be known as. In Philippians 2:3-4 we read, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Read these verses again. Can you even begin to imagine how radically different this world would be if every person practiced these things in our daily lives, at home and work, and on the freeways? You might ask, “well why don’t we? The reason is because by nature we are selfish and self-centered. But when a person repents of sin and places their trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God puts a new nature within that person. A nature that desires the things of God and is at odds with our old nature.
Look at what Paul says in the next verse. In Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Paul points to Jesus Christ as the standard and example that we are to look to for this new mindset. Note that Paul says, “Let this mind be in you.” The word mind means attitude, way of thinking. Our attitude often has profound effects upon our outlook and outcome.
God does not leave it up to us to determine what He means to have the right mind, the right attitude. He knows that we would come up with all kinds of weird ideas; just look at the various religions of the world to see what man has come up with. Instead, God gives us Jesus Christ to look at and see through His life, how He lived, treated people, responded to opposition, etc. The verses that follow give us a very clear picture of the kind of attitude God would have His children to have.
In Philippians 2:5-8 we see what attitude Jesus had. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
Here was the second person of the Godhead who had the entire universe at His fingertips and the entire Heavenly host at His command, yet for a time, He put all that aside to become a man. Not just any man, He wasn’t a king born into royalty or someone born into the higher echelon of society. Listen to what Jesus said of Himself. In Mark 10:45,
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." It is far beyond my ability to comprehend why God would do such a thing like this for you and me.
Yet the Bible clearly tells us the reason for such an unselfish act. In John 3:16-17 we read, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” It was for love that He did what He did. So great is His love that my puny little mind cannot grasp the vastness of it. Oh dear ones, do you know the wonderful love of Jesus? Or are you, like so many others, looking in all the wrong places for love? If you only knew the wonderful love of God, your life would be so much different today.
You can know the love of God in your life today. Surrender your life now to Jesus Christ, repent of your sins, and ask Him to come into your life and take control and make the changes that need to be made. If you have any questions on this or any other subject, contact me at any of the means listed below.
Next time we will continue our journey through the book of Philippians, until then may the Lord richly bless you beloved.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine