His courage…his love…his mind

Thank you for sharing your observations and personal responses to this week’s passage.  Now that Paul has begun exhorting, the Holy Spirit has begun convicting.  I have felt it, too.  I was stirred by the command to “walk worthy of the gospel” in the area of appetite and cravings.  The past few weeks have been times of temptation and quick defeat.  I haven’t been putting up much of a fight.  The phrase “this isn’t worthy of him” was a helpful one this week.  The Spirit used it to strengthen my courage for this good fight.

But my courage is not the foundation of my hope for victory over sin.  His victory is.  That’s why I was so glad our passage included the verses 2:9-11 “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus e very knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth…” Now that’s victory, when every power in creation bows before your authority!  This is the victory my Savior has purchased for me by his “becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” It doesn’t mean I have nothing to do.  I am called to fight today’s battle against the enemy within or without, but I fight in the double confidence that my Savior has already won and that he fights with me today by his Spirit who lives in me.

What did you learn about the people in the passage? Since I posed the question, I figure I’d better give my answer. My observations may not be exactly what you saw, so chime in with yours.

First I noticed that we have moved from Paul as the subject to the Philippians.  In other words, we have moved from “he” to “we”.  Suddenly, everything is in the plural.  Being a good American, I hear the commands of Scripture as addressed to me, the individual.  I forget that most of them are lived out in community.  This both cheers and tests me.  “Striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” means that I don’t have to fight the good fight alone; we are in this together.  What a cheerful thought! Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love” means that I am always living out my faith with you.  I haven’t really obeyed until I take you into account.  Community provides opportunities for sin…but also glorious opportunities for sanctification.  Every step forward brings joy, not just for me, but for us.

The other main thing I observed is that there is another person in the passage, a one of a kind person.  He was the only one in history who chose to be born, who took on the likeness of man as if it were a change of dress, who lived in order to die.  Remember the last question, how is the person in the passage just like me? It’s one thing to identify with Paul or the Philippian church.  But it seems almost sacrilegious to identify  Jesus.  Yet Scripture tells us he had to be made like his brothers in every respect…. Hebrews 2:17.  Therefore, this passage, with its clear statement of the incarnation, offers you a Savior with whom you can identify.  His affection, his sympathy comes not just from God, but from God who became man.  What glorious good news.

One comment on “His courage…his love…his mind

  1. Becky Priest says:

    Rondi, I too, noticed Paul’s draw to the plural, the we, the congregation at Philippi. I remembered they are a diverse group. What do I learn about the people in this passage? I learn that Paul really wants them to be unifed. He says it six times – 3 in verse 27 and 3 more in verse 2. So I wondered why. From another time studying this book, I have a circle written in my Bible connecting “worthy” in v27 with “suffer” in v29. I think maybe the clue to what it is to be counted worthy for us is to suffer like he did, and that is also a connection to 2:6-11, so I keyed in on that. Paul clearly tells them in v29-30 that they are going to suffer. (Imagine being in the congregation when that is read for the first time!) They MUST be of one mind to humble themselves and consider others better than themselves (this one mind is Christ’s mind). They MUST see the example of Christ in His suffering, and they MUST have in front of them the glorious picture of the Christ to whom everyone will bow to help them endure the coming suffering. That picture painted in 2:6-11 certainly would have comforted me if I’d just heard 5 sentences earlier that I am going to suffer. The example of Christ is the best motivation to me, in all these things. I need to remember it more often than I do. It will probably save me from some pity parties in my suffering!