Intro: Read Philippians 2:1-11. What will make the preacher happy? Diane contemplates that question every day. If the church at Philippi wondered Paul told them clearly in Philippians 2:2 – 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. What Paul wanted was for them to be one!
Interestingly this is precisely what Jesus prayed for concerning His disciples in John 17. John 17:11 – Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. John 17:20-23 – “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
And it is the topic under discussion in our theme passage of Ephesians 4. Immediately following his command for these Christians to walk worthy of the calling he says- “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” … (Eph 4:3-6)
I. Unity is essential – But how is that accomplished? A comparison of the texts we just mentioned may help us see:
There are several things essential to unity – doctrine, respect for a single authority, common practice, common judgment. But I want us to notice that these elements are not where Jesus or the apostles begin….
A. John 17 – When Jesus sought the unity of the disciples, He prayed. (John 17) But before He prayed He taught them some essentials. If we go backwards form chapter 17 we notice Jesus’ choice of topics:
• Chapter 16 – Jesus predicts their scattering, calls on them to endure through the persecutions that are coming; Promises the coming of the Holy Spirit and tells them of His work – judge the world, guide them into all truth (essential to unity)
• Chapter 15 – warns them of the world’ hatred; calls on them to obey His commandments and love each other as He loved them. Admonishes them to remain in the vine, and bear fruit.
• Chapter 14 –promises the comfort of the coming Holy Spirit; the power of the works they will do when He goes to the Father; promises them that He is the way truth and the Life, and promises them He is going to prepare a place for them so they can be with Him. At the end of chapter 13 we find Jesus discussing the essentiality of love for each other – a new commandment. These are all essential elements of our oneness. But keep going back – where does He start:
• John 13:1-5 – Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. 2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Jesus began with admonition for them to be servants – to be lowly.
B. Ephesians 4:1-11 – v. 2 – “with all lowliness” – Paul begins his great treatise on unity with a command of lowliness (as we discussed this morning) To see oneself as lower than others. To be low-minded.
C. Philippians 2 – return to Phil 2, where Paul said his joy would be full if they would just be one. How does He begin? Phil 2:3-4 – Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
1. In lowliness of mind… Paul proposes that unity can only be accomplished through a change of mind. Selfish ambition (looking out for myself) must be replaced by lowliness of mind (thinking less of myself). Each person must put themselves as the bottom of the list (think others are better than yourself). Pursuit of my interests must be replaced by an active pursuit of the interest of others.Real change always begins on the inside, with the heart, and then works its way out into our words and actions.
2. But the apostle takes this to a new level. He rests their hope of unity on their willingness to have the mind of Jesus. The call to walk worthy of the calling, begins with a close look at the Caller.
II. “Have this Mind in You” Listen to Paul’s command. Phil 2:5 – Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus This was the true solution to the problems and issues they faced. And it is for us as well, – both personally and as a congregation. We must learn to have His mind in us, to think like Jesus.
A. What is the Mind of Christ? What is this attitude Paul wants us to have? Paul will draw on the most powerful example possible to describe this attitude and make his point. Paul says five things about Jesus as he explains this attitude we must have.
1. Jesus existed in the form of God (v. 6).This is a clear declaration that Jesus is God, or divine. He shares the same nature as the Father and the Holy Spirit. This means that Jesus enjoyed all the glory and privileges that belong to God. But Jesus did not view His position as others might. He had a different mind about it. Notice Paul’s next statement…
2. Jesus did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped (v. 6).This means that Jesus did not seek to hold on to these privileges or glory. He was willing to give it up.
a. In our world people see position, privilege and glory as something to “grasp – do whatever it takes to hold on to it. (How difficult it is for other nations to demote their leaders or dictators) But Jesus had a different mind. He was not consumed with self and protecting His place. This will explain the bizarre turn of events that Paul is about to describe.
3. Jesus emptied Himself (v. 7). This does not mean that He emptied Himself of His deity; but rather that He relinquished His privileges and glory of heaven. This thought helps us see the depth of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. We often think of the physical pain at the cross, but Jesus’ sacrificed began earlier when He left heaven to come to the earth as a man. But there is more…
4. Jesus took the form of a bond-servant and was made in the likeness of men (v. 7).Jesus did not come here in the position of the King or Creator (although He was both). He came as a servant, and was treated as such.
a. Think of the preparations that are made when the president comes to visit a town. His every need is addressed and he is given the finest accommodations. But Jesus was not so attended to.
b. Jesus came as a man. He took on a human body and lived as one of us. He experienced hunger, pain. Disappointment, fatigue. Weaver says that “…Christ voluntarily entered the stream of life as a slave, freely and lovingly choosing to live as a person without advantage, denying his own rights or privileges, and placing Himself completely at the service of all mankind.” (Walton Weaver, Truth Commentaries, Philippians, pg. 90). Jesus gave this summary of His mission (Mark 10:45). This brings us to Paul’s next statement about Jesus…
5. Jesus was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (v. 8). Just how far was Jesus willing to take this bond-servant thing? He did not defend himself or His honor all the way the death on a Roman cross. It was the method of execution reserved for the lowest of people.
a. When Jesus was in a position to stand up for himself, he had a different mind. When He was tempted to put His legitimate needs at the front, He had a different mind. So He did not act like any of us. He understood the value of His submission, not for His sake, but ours. So He allowed them to arrest Him, to mock Him, and beat Him. He let them drive spikes through His wrists and ankles. He allowed them to kill Him. And we know why. Even though they did not know what was happening on that day, Jesus did. He was serving us, accounting us more important than Himself.
B. How are we to respond to this? When we are reminded of what Jesus did for us, we should be grateful to the very core of our being. But gratitude is not Paul’s point here.
1. Paul us using Jesus as our touchstone of ideal example. We must strive to imitate, not just his actions, if we had the opportunity, but His mind. Jesus had the selfless heart of a servant. But Jesus does not simply ask us to appreciate this selfless act of service. He demands that we imitate it (Philippians 2:3-5).
2. Peter does the same thing in 1 Peter 2:21-23 – 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;Jesus is our example, but in what way? Both apostles point to His willingness to suffer for others, and to not seek His own interests, but that of others. Jesus had a different mind.
III. What does the mind of Christ look like among us? It will be noticed today, just as it was then. It is uncompromisingly different than the mind of the world around us.
A. First, a Christian with the mind of Christ is no longer consumed with self. Jesus’ mind tells me that it is not all about me. Those who seek to follow God so they can get everything they want are not of the mind of Christ. A Gospel that promotes itself by promising people wealth and prestige is not the Gospel of Jesus. “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”
1. This mind is a challenge in a self-centered world such as ours. Selfishness is all around us, as a normal and justified way of thinking. In a line of traffic, no one will allow you to pull in because you delay them by two seconds or mother leaves her children home alone because she wants to go out and hang with her friends. We must choose to think differently, and be willing to suffer when we do.
B. Second, a Christian with the mind of Christ completely surrenders to the will of God. Jesus’ decisive selfless thinking led Him to surrender to God’s will above all else. Matthew 26:39 – He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Jesus had a single agenda, be obedient to the Father. When we fail to align our desires with those expressed by God in His word, we are headed for conflict with Him and each other. Too often our struggles to maintain moral purity in our own lives and unity within our spiritual family are rooted in our selfishness. We are focused on what WE want, not what Christ wants. We need a new way of thinking. We need His mind in us.
C. Third, a Christian with the mind of Christ will serve the needs of others. Aren’t you glad that, when it came time for the cross, Jesus was focused on us, that He put our concerns before His own? We appreciate Jesus’ mind and choice, but do we make the same one?
1. Ironically, when people learn to serve others, rather than themselves, they find true fulfillment and satisfaction in life.
2. Paul had been able to teach the mind of Christ to others, who in turn filled his needs.
a. Timothy: Phil 2:19-21 – But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.
b. Epaphroditus: Phil 2:25-30 Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; 26 since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. 29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; 30 because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.
Conclusion: The mind of Christ changes everything. It has changed the world that now is, and for those who put it on, it changes the world to come. How will you respond to the sacrifice and love of Jesus? Will you obey Him?