The Clear Parts are Difficult

Philippians 2:1-5 NIV

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

An elderly preacher once told me, “Craig, it’s not the ‘hard to understand’ parts of the Bible that give me trouble, it’s the clear, ‘easy to understand,’ parts that give me the most trouble.” And, I don’t think he is alone in that.

In this passage, Paul gives us an if/then appeal, and then some instruction. Apparently, he had become aware of some division in the Philippian community, so he offered his thoughts on what they need to do to fix the problem.

The Appeal

IF you have any encouragement from being united with Christ,
IF any comfort from his love,
IF
any fellowship with the Spirit,
IF
any tenderness and compassion,

Now, who – that is born again – doesn’t have some of that? Before you object, notice that Paul quantifies those things with “any.” He’s not saying those who have obtained complete fullness of encouragement, comfort, fellowship or compassion. He’s speaking to those who have ANY, of any of those things. And, if you do: Here comes the THEN.

THEN
make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

There it is: the clear but hard part. Be like-minded? Have the same love? Be one in spirit and purpose? “But we’re different people!” we might object. We have different likes and dislikes, different tastes, different backgrounds, different cultures. Lots of differences. On and on we go, with our objections to Paul’s “then.” How can we blend together in unity when we’re so different?

Paul’s Instruction

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

The only reason to comment on that is to find a loophole.

The Test

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

How did you do?

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