Philippians 2:1-4 ESV
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
To understand this passage of Scripture in its biblical context it is very helpful to use a dictionary and/or a thesaurus, but also to use a Bible dictionary and/or the interlinear on biblegateway.com or on biblehub.com or on any other bible helps website or book, because our English words (for those who read English) don’t always capture the full meaning behind these biblical words and phrases. And we do want to know what they mean.
So, for example, this word “encouragement” is not just cheers and pats on the back and praises for a job well done. We need those things, but that is not all there is to encouragement. For to encourage also means to urge (with a holy urging), to incite, to nurture, and to persuade. And it means to exhort, and to entreaty, as well as it means consolation and comfort. So I am going to encourage you to forsake your sins and to follow Jesus Christ in obedience because I care about you, because that is required for salvation.
The same is true with the word “comfort.” For “encouragement” and “comfort” appear to parallel each other in many ways. For “comfort” also means exhortation, encouragement, consolation, and persuasion.
And “love” is not human love, which is based in our emotions, but it is agape love which centers in moral preference and which prefers what God prefers because God is love. And what God prefers is all that is righteous, holy, godly, morally pure, honest, and faithful, etc. So, when we love others with this love we are not going to deliberately and habitually and willfully sin against them and against God, but we are going to do for others what is for their good and in actions which are honest and morally pure, etc.
And the Spirit of God is the third person of our triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – so he is God. So to fellowship (participate) in the Spirit is to participate in all that is of God, which is all that is holy, righteous, godly, morally pure, honest, and faithful, etc. And it is not to be walking in sin.
And these affections mentioned are not sensual or sexual in nature, but they are family type affections for one another in Christ, caring for one another as though we are all one big family. And we are also to have compassion and sympathy for one another, too, in the Spirit, and not of our sinful flesh.
So, if we are being encouraged (exhorted, urged, comforted) in Christ toward the things of God and away from what is sinful, and if we are being consoled or persuaded according to his divine love which is expressed in holiness, godliness, moral purity, and honesty, etc., and if we are actively participating in what is morally pure and upright and honest, and not in what is sinful, and if we are loving one another with family like love, then we are also to be of the same mind and of the same love.
Now the same love is the love of God, which is agape love, which is based in moral purity and which prefers what God prefers. And to be of the same mind is to all be of the mind of Christ. And we have his mind living within us if we are truly born again of the Spirit of God and if we are walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. And then we also learn to know the mind of Christ via reading the Scriptures in their context. And then that mind is to be our way of thinking and acting, too.
But not everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ is of the same mind and love and heart as that of Christ, for they are still living for self and for the flesh and for the sinful pleasures of this world and not for God. So we are not to be of one mind with those who are not united in mind with Jesus Christ and with his gospel that he taught and that his New Testament apostles taught. For not everything called “the gospel” today is the gospel of Jesus Christ, for many lies are being called “the gospel,” too.
And then we are not to be selfish people who only think about ourselves and our own interests, but we are also to care about other people and their interests. But this is not speaking of us caring about or being engaged in anything that is of this world and/or that is sinful. It just means we should care about other people and about what is going on in their lives and we should reach out to other people in love and show them the love of Christ, and invite them for a meal or provide for them for a need, etc.
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Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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