"Make Paul's Joy Complete" Page 2 of 2 (series: Lessons on Philippians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

2 then make my joy complete by being like-mindedI, having the same loveII, being one in spiritIII and of one mindIV.

then make my joy complete by being like-mindedI,
Although Paul is glad that he can base his appeal to the Philippians on what he knows are the realities of their spiritual experience, his cup of joy will be filled to the brim only if they respond to his urgent call for unity by being “like-mindedI” (of the same mind). Paul commands like-mindedness for the completion of his own joy. Does his command sound selfish? It shouldn’t when we understand God’s overarchingV intent in this letter to the Philippians. For all believers of all time, God put Paul on display as the Christ-like model of joyful Christian maturity. Paul is our paradigmVI—our standard of joy. Joy is focused on God’s glory, so Paul’s joy could not be complete if the church that he dearly loved was not thriving in Gospel unity for Christ’s sake.

Paul so completely identified both with Christ (1:8VII) and with the church (1:7VIII) that his joy was not his alone, and neither was it simply an emotion or feeling. The joy of Paul and of the church was, as he put it, “in Christ Jesus,” nourished by their relationship with each other and by the Spirit.

True spiritual unity, as opposed to mere outward uniformity, depends upon a holy unanimity of thought. Christianity is first and foremost a condition of mind. Hence they cannot work together harmoniously unless they share the same nature. Paul next shows how this “thinking the same thing” must work itself out in the life of the church. First, it involves “having the same love” for one another, as befits those who are loved by the same Savior and who share the same Spirit (v. 1). Secondly, it means “being one in spirit and of one mind.” These are to be taken together in order to provide a “more precise definition of the previously mentioned unity of mind: with harmony of soul enhancing the one sentiment.” As the inner motivation is the mainspring of all activity, the community of believers must share the same point of view if they are to work together in the same cause. Churches are so often upset by people with personality problems that the very idea of working together may seem like an impossible ideal. Such difficulties can be resolved, but only by the way of lowliness which is exemplified by the Lord Himself (vv. 2:3-5IX; 4:2).

I. Like-minded—to think; to ponder; to be of the same mind. Clearly, it is not agreement on all the facts of life. In another context Paul speaks positively of both Christians who eat for God’s glory and Christians who abstain from eating for God’s glory (Romans 14:5-6). When a church today is renovating its auditorium, it is ok to differ on whether the new carpet should be gray or beige as long as God is the One they are most concerned about! Nor does like-mindedness describe a group of believers who all look alike, dress alike, and talk alike. That state is called uniformity. Rather, like-mindedness has to do with the dispositions that foster unity and the decisions we make because of these attitudes.
II. Love—charity; benevolence; brotherly love
III. One accord—united in spirit; harmonious
IV. One mind—to be of one mind is to let the mind of Christ be in you. That permits differences of expressions, differences in gifts, differences in methods of service, even differences in minor directives. We won’t be beating each other on the head because we disagree on these things. If we have the mind of Christ, we will agree on the major statutes of the faith.
V. Overarching ―overall; all-encompassing:
VI. Paradigm―example, model, pattern, standard.
VII. “God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:8)
VIII. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. (Philippians 1:7)
IX. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:3-5)

Question: "What does it mean to be in Christ?"

Answer: Galatians 3:26-28 gives us insight into the phrase “in Christ” and what it means. "In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Paul is speaking to the Christians in Galatia, reminding them of their new identity since they placed their faith in Jesus Christ. To be "baptized into Christ" means that they were identified with Christ, having left their old sinful lives and fully embracing the new life in Christ (Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). When we respond to the Holy Spirit's drawing, He "baptizes" us into the family of God. First Corinthians 12:13 says, "For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink."
―From: Biblia.com by Faithlife

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