October 1, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in 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 of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”—Philippians 2:1–4 (NIV)
In my life as a believer, I’ve had the privilege of serving on a few short-term mission trips. I always love going because I enjoy traveling internationally, putting my faith into action through serving, and making friends I’d never get the chance to meet if I hadn’t gone on the trip. An unexpected benefit is the camaraderie that’s built with the teams I’ve traveled with—you create a deeper bond over the shared experience!
That shared experience, specifically about being a Christian, is what the apostle Paul is referring to in today’s passage. It’s almost set up as a series of rhetorical questions. Paul is encouraging the church in Philippi to live like Christ would because of the shared experience they’ve had as Christians.
If you’re a Christian, you likely have experienced encouragement from your relationship with Christ, comfort from His love, and fellowship with the Holy Spirit. This word fellowship in the original Greek is koinōnía, which implies community and intimacy, deep friendship and communion. You can’t have koinōnía alone. Christians have koinōnía with other believers and with the Holy Spirit. That koinōnía brings encouragement and comfort. Similarly, because of your Christian faith, you care and have compassion.
Just like being on a mission trip with a group of others, as a Christian, in your everyday life, you experience the same thing as other Christians form your relationship with Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul is exhorting his Christian audience here that since they’ve experienced all of these benefits, their lives should reflect that shared experience.
Any shared experience creates unity. You think similarly. You look out for one another. You put your needs after others. You create memories together that you can look back on. You comfort one another. You love sacrificially.
This is how we were designed to live. This is the mark of total and complete joy. This is the type of living Christ demonstrated, and it stands in total opposition to how the world expects and encourages us to live! This was true to Paul’s original audience in his letter, and it’s true for us today.
David Guzik comments on this passage this way, “When we live with the feeling that we are so important, or so able, or so talented, we are out of God’s will. We are working against the unity Paul pleaded with the Philippians and all Christians to have.”
My plead to you is to lean into that shared experience you’ve had if you’re a Christian. That peace, comfort, compassion, and fellowship ought to create unity between you that overflows as care to the world. Make sure your motivation is not self-seeking. Look out for each other’s interests before your own. In this way, you’ll follow the example of Christ, who considered our interests before His own.
Pause: Consider your thoughts and motivations for a moment. Are you motivated by your needs? Do you seek ways to serve others and put their needs first?
Practice: The next time you’re with a group of friends, think about how you can prioritize their needs over your own. If you’re in a grocery store, consider letting the person with less groceries than you go first through the checkout line. If you get into a disagreement with your spouse, pause and defer your preference.
Pray: Thank You Jesus that You set a perfect example of how to live as a Christian. Thank You for Your fellowship, comfort, compassion, care, and kindness. Please help me to live like You. Give me more of Your Spirit to guide me and to take care of me so I can care for others. I trust You with all of my needs. Amen.
Denise Trio has been on staff with Calvary for almost two years, serving as the Director of Strategic Development. She has 10 years of project management experience, with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Engingeering from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. When not on campus, Denise is either making her way through her book list at the beach, ordering tacos on any menu that serves them, or running her side business, The Rose Creative, which specializes in creating beautiful and meaningful products for her clients.