If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Philippians 2.1-4
In Paul’s address to the saints at Philippi, he encourages them with a very important message. He reminds them about Christ’s calling and command to love, the love that they have experienced (Christ’s love… Paul’s love), and the intimate and close fellowship with other saints (made possible by the Spirit). These are all excellent reasons to dig deep and find love, tenderness, and compassion for others.
It was Paul’s desire, for the saints to be unified in Christ’s love, and as a result pour out His love on others. Most often, when we think of unity, we think about unity of doctrine. In this passage Paul is not referencing doctrine, but humility, generosity and love. Doctrine is important, I would never minimize that reality. But, here we have an example, of loving people more than truth.
Love People More Than Truth
There is no room in the body of Christ for self-promotion. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory. Self-promotion usually involves tearing others down, with the intent of lifting oneself up. Paul taught this 2,000 years ago, why does gossip remain a problem? When we gossip about others, we must think that we are better than others, we are doing better than others, or that we know how to do it better (there is no other explanation). Either way, when we gossip to others, we are developing a network of people (faction) against another, or another group. If you haven’t already figured this out (I hope you have), if people gossip to you, they gossip about you.
Wash out that mouth
There is nor room in the body of Christ for empty pride. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory. Vainglory is best defined as empty pride. Vainglory is a real problem for me, and many other Christians. We act good for a while (a couple minutes) and we think we are something. When you have been a Christian for a while, and when you start comparing yourself with others, you begin to look very good. I am more spiritual than… …. …., fill in the blank. We may not say it to others, but we think it. And, some of us say it. But, we think it more often. (I can’t believe he/she dresses like that, did you see the way their children act, they miss so much church, they are always late, they are not involved in anything, they watched that movie… listen to that music, went out with that boy/girl etc.) Empty pride happens when a Christian forgets that God does the work and makes the changes. All the righteousness and good works in our lives happen because of Christ, not because of us. Paul writes, For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? I Corinthians 4.7 When we forget that God does the work, it also means that we quite trusting in Him to do the work.
Love People More Than Yourself
In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. When we live and think humbly, we will think more highly of others. C.S. Lewis said, “humility is not thinking less of yourself, its thinking of yourself less.” I will elaborate, humility is thinking more highly of others, and thinking about others more often. Paul’s command suggests that we let others go first, that we treat them like royalty. It would be rather difficult to gossip about someone if we were determined to treat them like royalty. We are supposed to see others the way God sees them. As we do that, we realize that God loves them as much as He loves us. And we realize that our sin is the same, our need for a Savior is the same. Our need for change is the same. And since we know ourselves well, (like Paul) we should be able to recognize ourselves as the worst sinner. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. After we stop living for, and loving ourselves, we can see and meet the needs of others. It is not our job to fix other people. It is our responsibility to love the unlovable, to be gracious and kind, to give and forgive generously. May the Lord help us.
Give and Forgive Generously