The Apostle Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit, laid out a great treatise for Christian living in Phlp. 2:1-4. The first verse establishes the basic principle that a Christian ought to live and act as a Christian should. The next three verses lay out specific application according to this immediate context of scripture.
Verse two uses four different expressions to emphasize the responsibility of the individual Christian to promote unity among Christians, or unity within the church. First, Paul admonishes Christians to be “like-minded.” Christians should basically be of the same mind in belief, practice and purpose.
Next, he instructs us to have the “same love.” Naturally, this is the love instructed by Jesus in Jn. 13:34-35. As Christians, we ought to love one another as we would want to be loved by our brothers and sisters in Christ. We should not expect something that we are not giving, as far as love is concerned.
Third, Paul states that Christians ought to be of “one accord.” There should be a natural conformity between Christians, within the church, as to who we are, what we are about and how we should live.
Paul comes back to the basic mind-set of a Christian by instructing to be of “one mind.” Christians should be united in their walk with God and in their opposition to the devil.
Verse three addresses attitude. Christians must possess and exhibit the proper attitude toward God and toward others in order to be able to maintain such a high ideal of unity within the church. Christianity is not primarily about personal ambition, or even personal desires. The Christian demeanor should not be one of conceit. It should exhibit humility. It should elevate others, even put others before self. A Christian life is a life of service, service to God and to others.
Verse four continues to emphasize proper attitude about self and others. A Christian should not be concerned only with his own personal interests. He should consider the interests of others. He should be aware of the needs of others and be ready to help where possible and proper.
Such a standard of unity would naturally sets the church apart from the world. The world needs to learn these principles. They are the opposite of the selfishness that prevails so much in our society today. The world should be able to see a distinct difference for good in the church. But the world will see that difference only if the church really is different. We need to be a leavening influence for good on the world around us. But in order to be able to leaven the world in a good way, we need to have things straight between ourselves in the church. Living by these principles laid out by Paul will enable us to be what we need to be for each other, and toward the world. A good way to think of this text is, God’s policy for Christian behavior..
Gary L. Hutchens