Tuesday in the Seventh Week of Ordinary Time

Philippians 2:1-4

Humility as the Basis for Unity

Philippians 2:1-4

Humility as the Basis for Unity

These four verses prepare us for the magnificent hymn of Christ which is coming in 5-11.  They speak of unity, but not just any unity, but true unity in Christ.  Although many commentaries will note that this unity is not uniformity, a statement with which I largely agree, yet knowing Paul and the rest of the New Testament, we understand that all unity has its foundation in the truth of Jesus Christ—his person and work, the nature of our Triune God, the moral law encompassed in the Ten Commandments, and all grounded in the truth of holy Scripture.  There can only be unity in the truth; otherwise, unity is not unity at all but a mere random collection of people in one room sharing their feelings about themselves and the world—a pathetic imitation and mockery of the Church of Jesus Christ.

Paul begins each of these phrases with an “if.”  This is not to suggest that the following list of things the Philippians shared together might be in their church, but simply a manner of speaking.  This church did share in these divine gifts.  “If there is any encouragement in Christ”: Of course there is and this church had experienced it even in hardship; “[If there is] any comfort from love”: Our Lord’s love is the basis of all the comfort a believer will experience in this life and is able to sustain him in any and all circumstances; “[If there is] any participation in the Spirit”: “Participation” translates that Greek word we keep running into in this letter, κοινωνια—a deep sharing by which we are made partakers with and in the Holy Spirit through our rebirth in him; and “[If there is] any affection and sympathy”: that capacity among the saints to enter into the sufferings of one another such that we weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice as if we were the ones experiencing their calamities or victories—these are all gifts shared by God’s people.

With these divine gifts in hand, the rest of Paul’s exhortations naturally follow.  Humility is the chief of Christian virtues; it crushes conceit, and rivalry turns concern away from self towards others.  And this is the way a local church is to operate: What are my brother’s (legitimate) interests?  Is he hurting?  Does he need a job?  Is someone in his family suffering due to illness?  And what is the deeper spiritual interest here?  Is there sin?  And what of me?  Is there unconfessed sin in my life?  And what of the church?  Where are we failing?  Is there as great a concern for godliness as there is for my aching back?  And what are we doing for the persecuted church around the globe?  For missions?  These are concerns born of humility.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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