Philippians 2:1-4

Read Philippians 2:1-4
This familiar and desperate plea of a parent frequently comes on family road trips, after endless hours in a car, listening to siblings argue, whine, and fuss. Snacks have been given out, toys have been brought out, and videos have been watched. Other techniques have been employed. (I clearly remember unsuccessfully bribing one of my children with a dime for every five minutes he could remain silent). When nothing seems to ease the frustrations of the children, the exasperated and exhausted parent finally says, ‘Could you kids please just get along? It will make me so happy!’ But from experience we know that this plea rarely works as close quarters almost always wears down all civility between little travelers.
 
As we move into the first part of Philippians 2, we see Paul speaking to the Philippian church and almost pleading for unity. In verse 2 he asks his friends to make his joy complete by being of the same mind. The phrase ‘same mind’ is translated from the word ‘phroneo’ and is found ten times in book of Philippians. Paul knew that without a commitment to a common purpose, the effectiveness of the new church would wane. We know, all too well, that unity can be elusive and short lived. In a marriage, small things can grow quickly into large obstacles of disagreement. How to load the dishwasher, what time the kids need to be in bed, what restaurant to frequent, and even who wipes the crumbs on the counter can evolve into minor and sometimes major conflicts. In churches, differences of opinion concerning music and preaching styles, doctrine, and even service times can dismantle unity and even destroy a local church.
 
Why is harmony and agreement so difficult to achieve and maintain? Paul provides two reasons in verse three: selfishness and pride. Acting like kings and queens of our little kingdom of one comes effortlessly to all of us and it’s completely natural for humans to consistently experience strong feelings of entitlement and self-promotion. Entitlement may be one of the most common battles for parents with their children. Pastor and author John Piper comments, ‘Serving is the measure of greatness because it takes great power to conquer selfishness.’
 
The second quality that wages war against unity is arrogant pride. While selfishness pursues personal gain, pride seeks glory and acclaim. Because pride by nature is self-deceptive, believers must constantly be on guard against it. We experience the temptation of pride daily, if not hourly. Pride can find us when we are feeling glad we have a better job than another, have experienced fewer problems with our children, exercise more than another, wear clothing that another might not afford, or when we pass a car that is going slow in the fast lane or even when we finish driving the roundabout faster than the car next to us. Temptation for pride is everywhere, all the time.
 
Paul encourages us to not merely look out for our personal interests but also the interests of others. This begins with genuine concern for those who live with/close to you, but it doesn’t end there. Jesus went further, looking after those who were in his path and those who would be unable to offer him anything in return. Jesus went after us. This is gospel.
 
Questions for reflection:
  1.  Where have you seen unity on display?
  2.  How does pride sneak into your life?
  3.  How can you take an interest in others this week?
Linda Miller | Ministry Development 

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